Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
Unfortunately, the rabbis and religious Jews who sought to confront the Women of the Wall have unwittingly played right into their hands. Publicity is the oxygen that has kept the movement in the spotlight and enabled it to garner the attention it needs to keep going.
The Women of the Wall, after all, is a miniscule group – numerically insignificant. But precisely because of their baiting, and the responses they elicited, they have received column inches far in excess of their membership rolls.
At this stage, decisive action is necessary to prevent further squabbles from breaking out.
In the wake of the court ruling, it behooves Israel’s Religious Affairs Ministry to issue new regulations governing acceptable practice at the Western Wall in order to forestall future altercations.
Whatever loopholes exist in the current guidelines need to be addressed so that the traditional practice at the Wall is maintained and Jewish law is respected.
And then the Women of the Wall need to be given a clear choice regarding the Sharansky proposal: take it or leave it.
The clashes they have sparked at the Western Wall aren’t good for Israel or Jewish unity. We cannot allow them to drag us into internecine conflict or senseless hatred.
Yes, the Western Wall belongs to the entire Jewish people. But those who exploit this holy site for their own ulterior motives must finally be exposed for what they are: anything but holy.
About the Author: Michael Freund is the Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s leading English-language daily, and he previously served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
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