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Friday, June 07, 2013 

Women of the Wall plan their next gathering, and so do the Haredis

I wonder what the scene's going to look like this time? The Haredis are making the fuss they didn't make years ago, and calling again for a gathering at the Western Wall to protest that of Women of the Wall, though they may be learning a bit of a lesson this time:
A mass haredi protest is being organized to take place this Sunday at the Western Wall to express opposition to the Women of the Wall activist group who plan to hold their monthly prayer service at the site.

β€œA mass prayer service will be conducted at the Western Wall in order to express the outcry of faithful Judaism against the severe injury to the holiest and most beloved place of all of the Jewish people, and in so doing to declare... that the Jewish world will not be quiet and will not be reconciled to the humiliating conspiracy to turn the remnant of our holy sanctuary into a Reform temple and a media spectacle, God forbid,” the haredi newspaper Yated Neeman wrote.

The senior haredi rabbinic leadership has approved the protest but has specifically called on attendees to behave β€œin accordance with the Torah.”

Yated Neeman reported on Thursday that only married yeshiva students and adults were being asked to come to the demonstration, specifically saying that younger men and boys should not attend.

This directive is most likely intended to reduce the possibility of the demonstration turning violent, as it did last month, by prohibiting the more combustible haredi youth from attending the protest.
Good to see they're learning one lesson, but if they continue to make such a tug-of-war fuss, they'll be making as much - maybe even more - of a spectacle than the WotW are.

While on the subject, whoever it was who sent those disgusting threat letters to some chief rabbis sent another one to MK Moshe Gafni. Can they find the perpetrator who's committing that obscene act?

Isi Liebler wrote about this affair, and said:
...the issue exploded after Israelis were shocked by the excessive reaction of the Israeli police who, pressured by the ultra-Orthodox, arrested and jailed women for wearing prayer shawls at the Western Wall. The ugly and offensive haredi demonstrations at the Western Wall also created a furor and received such wide international media coverage that the issue was transformed into a major Israel-U.S. Diaspora confrontation. Public opinion obliged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene, which led to the acceptance of the Sharansky proposal to extend the Western Wall plaza to include Robinson's Arch, specifically to provide access to members of Women of the Wall to gather and pray as they desire.

Had both factions to this dispute not deliberately polarized the situation, we would have been spared this pain and ridicule. Had the women prayed quietly, with or without tallitot, the authorities should have ensured that they be left in peace. Had the haredim ignored the women and avoided these confrontations, there is little doubt that, in the course of time, at least the secular leftist political activists would simply have stopped "praying" at the Western Wall.

The Women of the Wall issue also gained public support because it became perceived as yet another example of efforts by the combined forces of the haredim and the more right-wing religious Zionist elements to impose their stringent interpretations of Jewish law on the entire nation.

Many Israelis also, mistakenly, bracketed this issue with recent efforts to impose gender separation in transportation, at public functions and in some cases even on the streets. The current attempts to enforce prohibitions against listening to a woman singing and the separation of the sexes -- even in some sections of Bnei Akiva, the religious Zionist youth movement -- was never the approach of mainstream Judaism by even the most revered Orthodox rabbinical leaders, such as former Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Herzog and Shlomo Goren, and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveichik.

[...] It is clear that the increasing rigidity and efforts by the ultra-Orthodox to impose their standards on the entire nation, combined with the failure of their rabbis to encourage their students to carry the burden of the draft and earn a livelihood rather than being dependent on state welfare, has alienated the nation against them. They are now often perceived as selfish, obscurantist, and unwilling to share the burden of civic responsibilities.
While I think he's acknowledging that religious Zionists were hardly part of this embarrassment, I still want to remind that they weren't part of the all the nasty chanting against the WotW the Haredis stirred up, nor did many modern Orthodox come to the Western Wall to oppose them either. It's by and large the Haredis who're ruffling their feathers, whereas non-Haredis are wisely refraining from making a spectacle of themselves.

And unfortunately, since the Haredis are the ones causing the ruckus, it does in a way have what to do with the efforts to nickel-and-dime the public even outside the confines of synagogues. That's why it's to be hoped that they'll cut out their sleazy act and not give the WotW the attention they don't need.

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