April 19, 2019

Tel Aviv Is No Longer Israel’s Secular Capital

“Tel Aviv is Israel’s quintessential secular city – right?

Not necessarily.

A ranking published Thursday shows that despite its hip and super-secular reputation, Tel Aviv is not the biggest champion of religious freedom in the country. That title goes instead to Modi’in, a city built from scratch barely 25 years ago and situated halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The first-of-its-kind ranking, published by Be Free Israel (“Israel Hofsheet”), a non-profit that promotes religious freedom and pluralism, included 24 cities. At the bottom of the list was B’nai Brak, an ultra-Orthodox city near Tel Aviv. Beit Shemesh, a city where religious tensions have flaired in recent years, was just one notch above Bnei Brak.

“Whoever thought that matters of religion and state were determined exclusively by the government understands after seeing this ranking that they erred big time,” said Uri Keidar, the chief executive of Be Free Israel. “Mayors and city councils members, as it proves, have a dramatic impact on religious freedom.”

The ranking was published a little more than two weeks before Israelis head out to the polls to vote for their municipal representatives and leaders, as they do every five years.”

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