Gross, still an עולה חדש oleh chadash, new immigrant, enjoys seeing so many obviously religious Jews in the arts, playing in symphonies etc here in Israel. He compares it to the American Jewish world he just recently left in which such a thing is unknown. The financial pressures of living a Jewish life in America make it necessary to choose safe and high income professions.
We're in Israel over forty years already. When we first came, we'd see the 1960's-'70's style Bnai Akiva type of Israeli religious guy wearing a middle-sized hand-crocheted kippah and droopy needs a trim mustache driving a bus and think, "only in Israel." Today the "kippah-tichel ceiling" has been seriously cracked and opened. Today's religious bus driver frequently sports a full beard and black cloth kippah, looking more chareidi than Bnai Akiva. Gross is right about religious Jews, with all the trimmings Jews, male and female, in the arts, music, media etc.
You'll see religious married women wearing hats, scarves and wigs in the highest courts of the land, not just as secretaries, but as lawyers and judges. And you'll also find religiously dressed women as high-ranking IDF officers, yes in skirts and hats as part of their uniforms.
It's easy to find gorgeous designer clothes which are perfectly tziniyusik modest here in Israel. Maybe not every branch of Dorin Frankfurt, Hagara, Isha Isha, Ronit Takko etc. shows them, but they're included in the designs and they can add fabric where necessary.
I really enjoy seeing the temporary beards for religious reasons on men in politics, media etc. It's totally acceptable here in Israel.
Please, I agree that things are far from perfect here, but there is constant improvement. There's more confidence among the Torah-observant in publically following mitzvot, and yes it sometimes makes the non- (or anti-) observant nervous. Demographically, we're reproducing (having more kids) in greater numbers which can easily be seen in the school registration statistics.
Let's start this week looking at the good that is happening here, and if I get soaked in the rain, I'll have to smile, too.