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Thursday, April 04, 2013 

Kotel rabbi agrees not to demand arrest of WoW for kaddish prayers

It looks like the outrage over the police call to ban women from praying kaddish at the Western Wall has born fruit:
The announcement led to significant political opposition to the move however, and following consultations between MK Aliza Lavie, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, Rabbi of the Wall Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Jerusalem police and the Women of the Wall on Thursday, it was agreed that the prohibition on women saying Kaddish would not be enforced.

A spokesman for the Jerusalem District Police could not confirm the agreement, telling The Jerusalem Post that the matter was in the hands of Rabinowitz and that if he had agreed to a compromise deal with the concerned parties, the agreement would be conveyed to the Ministry of Justice and subsequently back to the police.

Rabbi Rabinowitz confirmed to the Post that an agreement had indeed been reached, according to which women will not be arrested for saying Kaddish at the Western Wall plaza. [...]

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, who has been designated by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to form a compromise on the matter, issued a statement to the press on Thursday “expressing his shock” at the recent directive from the police banning women from saying Kaddish.

According to the statement, Sharansky met with Rabinowitz on Thursday, who assured him that “contrary to the letter, no woman would be arrested for reciting Kaddish at the Western Wall.”

MK Aliza Lavie of Yesh Atid was also involved in reaching an agreement with Rabinowitz that the ban on women saying the prayers would not be enforced and that no-one will be arrested for doing so.

“This is a specific solution for a complex problem which needs to be resolved as soon as possible,” said Lavie, adding that she has been working on the issue since being elected to the Knesset in the January elections.

She emphasized that a solution can only be reached with mutual understanding and dialogue” and said that the Western Wall must not turn into a permanent source of conflict.

Hoffman blamed Rabinowitz for the prohibition on women saying Kaddish, saying it was “brought on solely by the hegemony and short-sightedness of Rabbi Rabinowitz.”
As I've noted before, there is potential irony involved: they may not be all that different from one another - has Rabinowitz ever protested the Wakf's abuse of the Temple Mount? Not to my knowledge.

It's good that there was backlash, because what the police intended could affect even Orthodox women. I'd say the chief of police himself owes an apology for all the trouble he's caused. No matter what I think of Reform Judaism, I don't consider prayer service in itself a problem, and it's all part of free speech, plus freedom of religion. Rabinowitz too owes an apology for delegitimizing other sects of Judaism, which is quite contrary to what Judaism is all about.

Haaretz says:
Sharansky is in the final stages of drafting recommendations for a compromise to resolve growing tensions over prayer at the wall. The recommendations, his office said, are meant to ensure “that every Jew in the world can pray in the manner that they are accustomed to at Judaism’s most important national and religious site.”
That would include my grandmothers, if they were still alive today and adhered to Conservative Judaism. And, the Wash. Post tells that:
Elana Sztokman, executive director of the New York-based Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, said “it is not up to the state of Israel, the police, or the (Wall’s) administrator,” to dictate when women can say the Kaddish.

“The idea that the police are being recruited to incarcerate women for failing to comply with the particularly radical opinion of the ultra-Orthodox rabbi ... is a frightening invasion of fanatic religious opinions into women’s real lives,” she said.
Absolutely. Rabinowitz is not fit for his job, and would do well to resign his position, or, it should be taken away from him. The Western Wall is supposed to be public property, not Haredi.

Update: here's another something to ponder:
Women of the Wall plans to conclude its Rosh Chodesh prayer service on April 11, which is a few days before Israel’s Independence Day, by singing HaTikvah at the Kotel.

“This is a way on erev Yom Hatzmaut [the eve of Independence Day] to protest that women are not allowed to sing Hatikvah at the Wall,” Hoffman said.

According to Hoffman, women have not spoken or sung the national anthem at the swearing in of new soldiers at the Kotel, which is a national historical site as well as a religious one, since the early 1990s. “There has been a tacit agreement that women [commanders] will not swear in their own soldiers at the Wall and women will not sing Hatikvah. I have gone to swearing in of soldiers regularly and have never seen a woman sing. The IDF’s singing troupe, which has women in it, manages not to send them” to swearing in ceremonies, she said.
If this is correct, that too is ludicrous and offensive. It's not something religious per se, and it's just as much an insult to free speech as the other stupid things the police were doing.

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