June 17, 2008
LA Times: High gas prices forcing Jews to walk on Sabbath
I don’t know Ronald D. White of the Los Angeles Times’ business desk, but I do know that he’s not a religion reporter. So we can forgive him a serious error in this article about how high gas prices are affecting attendance at houses of worship.
White reached this conclusion after speaking with someone from the Islamic Center of Southern California and pastors of the Baptist, Foursquare and Lutheran persuasion. And certainly there is some truth here: If you provide a busing ministry, your costs have skyrocketed; if you have a commuter congregation that draws folks from 30 miles away, they might be inclined to stay closer to home on Sunday.
White, however, apparently did not speak with any rabbis or synagogue presidents. If he had, they might have told him that Orthodox Jews and many Conservative Jews do not drive on the Sabbath. In fact, most gentiles could have answered that question just as well.
Imagine this anecdote left on the editing floor:
“A Saturday tour through L.A.‘s traditionally Jewish neighborhoods, Pico-Robertson and the Fairfax district, found that Jews, many with their heads covered and beards long, had ditched their cars completely and were walking to shul. If 2,000 of persecution wasn’t enough, Jews are feeling a pinch at the pump just like everybody else. “