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Thursday, May 09, 2013 

Zionist rabbis aren't helping much by siding with Haredis against WoW

Oh boy. Some Zionist rabbis have decided to ignore the advice of Yitz Greenberg and oppose the Women of the Wall as well:
Haredim are not alone: Senior religious Zionist rabbis are uniting for the first time in their own battle against the Women of the Wall, issuing a letter calling not to allow liberal female worshippers to pray at the Western Wall in a way contradicting its "conduct orders." [...]

The letter was signed by Rabbis Zalman Melamed, Chaim Druckman, Shmuel Eliyahu, Shlomo Aviner, Zvi Tau and Avigdor Nebenzahl, and includes a "holy call" on public figures in Israel and abroad "not to let a small group offend the thousands of worshippers arriving to pray at this sacred place on a regular basis."

The rabbis rule that "the Western Wall belongs to every single Jew wherever he is, but we must all know that like in every public place, the Western Wall has conduct and prayer orders as well – both in the men's section and in the women's section."

According to the rabbis, the current arrangements are based on Jewish traditions "from times immemorial," and have existed at the site for exactly 46 years, since the liberation of Jerusalem, allowing the site's proper management and attracting millions of visitors every year.

"There are those who have been trying in recent years to change the present situation, offending many and tainting the special atmosphere of holiness of this sacred place," the rabbis wrote of the Women of the Wall, concluding their call with a prayer "for the holy place's dignity and for the preservation of its nature."
Does that mean we should be offended? It's not like the prayer books will melt if they do, and besides, I've argued before that it can hurt relations with world Jewry.

Now here's the part I find irksome:
According to estimates, only several dozens of worshippers/protestors will arrive at the Western Wall plaza eventually, but a senior haredi source has promised that if the first time the Women of the Wall are allowed to wear prayer shawls will not be the last time – "there will be war."
Coming from the mouths of some Haredis, that's given me the impression they mean violent riots. And if that be the case, they do a grave disservice and a chillul hashem of their own. If it really bothers them so much, why not laugh at the WoW rather than curse at them? There's no need to resort to vulgar bigotry.

While on the subject, MK Dov Lipman said that no gender segregation is really needed at the Western Wall:

I congratulate him for letting his opinion be known, and showing some guts. He's taken quite a bit of flak and demonization from the more insular Haredi communities, but has responded to them with grace.

Update: of course, Ynet could be taking at least half the situation out of context. Israel National News says that some sources are asking for calm:
Thousands of hareidi young women are expected at the Kotel Friday to pray on the first day of Sivan, the month in which the Torah was given at Mount Sinai. They have been instructed by their teachers to pray silently as usual and avoid clashing with the Women of the Wall group, whose members insist on reading from the Torah while wearing prayer shawls, in contravention of the established customs at the Kotel.

Beit Hillel, a religious Zionist rabbi's group, issued a statement saying that "Jerusalem was always a source of unity and peace for the Jewish people, and it was destroyed 2,000 years ago just because of discord and hatred between brothers."

"The Kotel's rocks must not become a source of fighting, discord and disagreement again," the rabbis said. "We call on all sides to avoid confrontations and physical or verbal violence at the Kotel Plaza tomorrow. A solution must only come from dialogue and understanding, and not through coercion by one of the sides."
Even Naftali Bennett's asked to refrain from any such mistakes, and those who truly honor the Western Wall and the Temple would do well to avoid acting like barbarians. Otherwise, they'll be disgracing Judaism's beliefs as well.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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