Link to the Ynet article
The depth of ignorance in the Jewish State is sometimes astounding. Regarding this issue, there was actually a debate in an email forum in Modiin, with some people defending the school. I'm sorry to sound so insensitive to those ostensibly well-meaning parents who fear that their children will become prey to religious coercion because a couple of classmates think its cool to wear religious symbols for a few minutes every day, but I really have no patience for this.
Are these parents that insecure? After all, it's a free world out there, and all kinds of people will be out there hawking all kinds of things in life - drugs, sex, and, yes, religion. If they're afraid that their impressionable little teenager will go over to the Dark Side because a buddy likes strapping on leather boxes, I'd hate to consider how neurotic they become when the kids goes out on weekends. Seriously, can we get a grip? Do we really think that kids being kids - and different kids are into different things - is "proselytizing" or "coercion"?
One parent compared this kid bringing his tefillin to religious or traditional kids insisting that class birthday parties not be held on Shabbat. It's a poor comparison. Here, the bephylacteried youth is not expecting or demanding that anyone else live up to his standard. Rather, the school shutting this kid down would be more akin to a parent who made a birthday party on Shabbat and then complained that when a Shabbat observant kid failed to turn up, that he "ruined" the birthday party.
I also find it laughable that a school can ban a kid from offering to share his tefillin with a classmate in the name of being against coercion. I'm usually pretty good about seeing both sides of an issue, but this is cut-and-dried. A kid can bring his tefillin to school and offer to share it with his friends. He can do the same with his sunflower seeds, his stamp collection, of whatever else is legal to possess.
By my libertarian sensibilities, a kid should also be allowed to sport a crucifix or be entitled to bust out the prayer rug 5 times a day if he or she so desires, but I don't want to go there for fear of shattering to many people's narrow conceptions of what people from which sectors ought to believe.
Now, if the kid were wearing a Yankee cap, it would be a whole different ball of wax...
May this year be one of clearheadedness and sanity in the City of the Future.