Now, this screaming man was obviously nuts, because I was asleep and therefore did not know that there was an old man standing in the aisle. I remember at the time being very embarrassed and since my Hebrew was not that good yet, I could not even explain myself. But the guy kept yelling at me to "take off my kippa", even after I had stood up to give the old man my seat. I really did not understand what my kippa had to do with anything.
Fast forward to today. I was waiting for the light rail in Jerusalem. Standing next to my was a young ultra-orthodox guy (about 18-20 years old?) with a girl that I assume was his younger sister (15 or 16 years old?). They tried to buy a ticket from the ticket machine and it did not work. So he said to his sister, "lets just get on the train without a ticket. (Never mind that there was another ticket machine across the street that did work). Worse case scenario and we get caught, they will just make us get off at the next stop". To the girls credit, she was very uncomfortable with the idea, but her brother insisted and she eventually agreed. Witnessing all this I thought to myself, "this guy is religious?!" And than I remembered what had happened to me, 8 years ago when I was in the army and I understood what the crazy guy was talking about when he kept telling me to take off my kippa.
Obviously, all communities have their good and their bad people. But in Israel, many of the leaders and the most vocal members of the religious communities are constantly telling the secular community to "repent" and become religious. We are told that the secular life style is empty and without meaning. We are told that if we do not believe in a "god" that can see us at all times and judges us, we will eventually do immoral things. Proselytizers set up booths on main street corners trying to convince passerby's to pray. We are told it is good for our soul.
With the religious community constantly telling us that we are bad, and that we should be more like them, when we in the secular "community" witness a religious person doing something bad, we jump on it. "This person thinks he is better than me, but here he is doing something bad".
The point of this post is not to say, religious people are not as good as they claim or anything like that. As I wrote earlier, there are plenty of good and bad people from every kind of background. But the bottom line is that their are bad religious people. Religion does not make people good. So to all the "preachers" out there I would like to say, STOP preaching and telling all secular people to "repent". There are enough bad people that believe in god that you should question your "belief = good" formula. Get off your high horse, worry about yourself and leave me alone.