Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Take my muezzin...please! בבקשה, קחו את המאוזין שלי

I have to concede in reference to Bibi’s support of mineret-muzzling that indeed, even a broken clock shows the correct time once a day. However, what bothers me is how he argued his case: “We don’t need to be more liberal than Europe”. Does he not realize that this remark gives him away as implicitly admitting that Europe is the light unto the nations, or at least the model of civility that we all should strive to emulate? As I read his words, I thought to myself: Aha! So you do admire Europe! And you admit that liberal is a positive thing to be! Gotcha!

However, although I agree that the Moslem calls to prayer constitute noise pollution, it’s still offensive and certain unnecessary to target them specifically. We have noise pollution ordinances; why not simply enforce them in all locales? That would take care of the ultra-Orthodox and their bullhorn-fitted vans that cruise the streets for hours (apparently it's OK to pollute in God's name) blaring their appeals to dress modestly, attend a study session, or light candles. If I had the misfortune to live within hearing distance of this noise, I’d applaud any and all measures to silence it, including that inspired by the scene in the film Hair wherein George fires a rifle to silence the loudspeakers at the military base parade ground.

Same goes for Shabbat sirens, which I find paternalistic and therefore offensive. Anyone who observes the Sabbath can consult their watches, calendars, newspapers, or multiple fridge magnets for Sabbath starting and ending times, and if those fail, go outside and look at the sun, for God’s sake.

More than one talkbacker to the article proposed that Muslims install an app in their phones (or subscribe to a service) that sets off a prayer reminder replicating the muezzin, so we could do without the public calls to prayer altogether. Good idea, and let’s take it a step further: The Religious Affairs Ministry should provide this service for free, should it not? As long as this rabbi-opoly has to exist, let it serve the public for a refreshing change, and not vice versa.


  1. Oh my, oh my, I have lived in en-lighted Holland. Free sex and drugs, as long as it does not affect what I see, smell or do. As long as it does not stop us from noise pollution in Gods name. We lived in a small village with 1 grocery store, 2 churches, (yes two Dutch need three churches and four schools) whose bells would be sounded every half hour and on Sunday morning the bells would go on as long as to make sure each possible plan of sleeping in would be forsaken. Ask Naomi about it.
    But we went to live there, it was our choice. We did not stay there, that was our choice as well. I think it is the Dutch peoples business to deal with their bells.

  2. I thought that plural for Shofar was Shofarot...

    In any case, I agree with you that those bandits dancing to noisy music on vans' roofs - should be stopped or arrested (in Hebrew it's the same verb, right?). But even they do not noise-pollute 5 times a day, every day.

    I am surprised that it's bothering you, way far in the Arava. Never noticed Misgadim in the Ketura area...
    But in my neighborhood in Jerusalem, I get to be woken up early in the mornings (esp. on רמאדן) from a three-way call to prayer. This IS annoying.

    One should note, that the siren before Shabbat (I never heard a siren for the ending of Shabbat - where did you get that?) follows the Jewish tradition of 2nd Temple period, where the priests used to blow the Shofar to sifnify the beginning of Shabbat, and stopping commercial actvity. I actually find this to be a nice tradition, and it is really not so bad. Once a week, for 30 seconds, is a bearable noise, in my humble opinion.

    As you said, we have to agree with Bibi here: Before loudspeakers came in, the מואזין would rely on vocal cords, and that's fine with me. But mega-decibel amplifying x5 a day, is simply too much.

  3. Oy vey, just looked it up: *shofar* is indeed feminine. Thanks for pointing this out!

    As for whether there are mosques in the Arava, that’s not the point: A bill is being proposed in my name regarding an issue in my country, and speaking out against injustice even if it's not aimed at me is the Jewish thing to do. Today it's the mosques in your neighborhood, tomorrow it's somebody blasting music or messages in my neighborhood.

    I don't know about the Na-Nachs; I've only heard about them; never seen them. I was referring to those awful vans that cruise ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods blasting their annoying messages relentlessly (and spewing their exhaust).

    As for sirens, I didn't mean sirens to signify the end of Sabbath. I meant: If you're uncertain, go outside and look at the sky.

  4. Rabbi Susan SilvermanDecember 15, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Love it! My friend supports the muezzin-quieting effort. I'm gonna send her this! I suggested that she go herself and just ask nicely as opposed to
    starting at the statutory level. This is so much better!!

  5. I have to isist that just because it's Moslem, it does not mean that they have any right to make so much noise, even if it's their tradition for many generations. (it's also their tradition to kill brutally "על רקע כבוד המשפחה"; do you support this custom too? Why not? It's their tradition for even longer.)

    In other words, if their call to prayer is done by the vocal cords of the מואזין - I am really fine with it; but using technology to demonstrate political issues (and do not kid yourself here: this is what it is for) - then no. Especially not when it exceeds any acceptable level of noise.

    Same goes for Jewish amplifying, BTW: A friend of mine lives just near a Sepharadi synagogue where every Elul they go outside to the shul's courtyard, and scream and sing loudly in Slichot at 4:30 AM. he asked them to stay inside and not pray in the courtyard, and they refused. He complained at the Iriya, and the police came and forced them inside. My suggestion, BTW, was for him to pour buckets of sewege on their heads (he lives on the 3rd floor, just above). This would follow the ancient Jewish custom from the Shtetle. He did not follow my advice.

  6. At my SIL's house, there is this synogogue bullhorn right across from them and every Friday night at sundown it blasts Kabalat Shabat songs so loudly that I have to hold my hands over my ears until it's over. Does anyone have the nerve to complain? No. I really find it offensive that they target only the muezzin.