Last Monday, at Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv, Women of the Wall conducted a shofar blowing workshop for women, “In Preparation for the Month of Elul, Selichot and the High Holidays.” The workshop instructor was Stephen Beck, a saxophone player with a music degree who, apparently, is an expert at teaching shofar. According to Beck, “Anyone can succeed at shofar, because the technique is simple and can be mastered quickly and easily.”
According to the WOW press release that invited women to hone their shofar blowing skills, “the workshop will provide participants with practical skills.” For instance, they could come to the Western Wall next Wednesday, Aug. 23, which is also the second day of Rosh Chodesh (WOW never keep the first day, which falls on the last of a 30-day lunar month – maybe it’s the math, maybe it’s the fact that the unabridged Jewish calendar is an Orthodox device). There WOW, along with folks from the Reform and Conservative Movements will hold a mixed-sex prayer session and blow the shofar.
My deep, personal hope is that a fierce summer rain will clear the Kotel plaza come Wednesday morning, and all the Orthodox Jews who would normally be provoked by this planned display of outward faith would rush to their neighborhood shuls and leave the entire Kotel to the visiting team for a couple of hours. They’ll pray, sing Hallel, maybe pray Musaf (do Reform people believe in Musaf?), and finally blow their shofars to their hearts’ content.
Ah, but if Jews had the ability to ignore religious provocation when they saw one, we’d still have the Second Temple, if not the First. So what will inevitably happen instead is some kind of brouhaha, strife, yelling, cursing, cameras snapping, the works. Soon after, the Internet will be packed with Der Stürmer style images of Jews with hooked noses and bushy beards shaking their scrawny fingers at the ladies “whose only sin” is that they wanted to pray to God in a public place, as approved by an entire bench of Supreme Court Justices.
Also, as stressed by Ynet, that renowned observer of tolerance and equality, “Several MKs from Meretz and the Zionist Union are expected to arrive at the Western Wall in order to strengthen the members of the liberal streams of Judaism.”
When did folks who disobey 2,000 years of rabbinic teaching become “liberal streams?” When did the old-time Communists of Meretz and the Bolsheviks’ children at Labor (which is so ashamed of its Moscow roots it removed the word Labor from its official title) – when did those thugs become the friends of “liberal streams?’ What’s the possible connection between religious, mostly American Jews, albeit Reform and Conservative, with the Socialist sworn enemies of religion?
It all becomes clear when you read the emotional Rosh Chodesh message of Gilad Kariv, Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism: “Once the government abandons the path of compromise, we return to act for the realization of our way of praying as we did at the Western Wall. Blame for the escalation of the situation and the tension lies entirely with the prime minister, who lacked the required leadership to implement his government’s decision.”
That, friends, is his religion, that’s his livelihood: don’t blame us if there’s going to be a huge explosion next Wednesday, it ain’t our fault, it’s all the fault of Netanyahu. All we do is aggravate the easily provoked Orthodox Jews, and if that’s not enough – hey, we just took that shofar blowing workshop. With a sax player. He’s really good.
And Yizhar Hess, Executive Director and CEO of the Conservative Judaism movement, pointed out that the Netanyahu government “caused the biggest crisis Israel ever faced with Diaspora Jewry.”
Hordes of Nazis are marching in Charlottesville, crying Death to the Jew; gay Jews aren’t allowed to wear a star of David at a march in Chicago; Jewish students are accosted in campuses across America – what a perfect moment in history to forge an alienation between Israel and US Jews. For the sake of fundraising, which surely would soar if all the hooked-nosed Jews perform their part in this passion play diligently on Wednesday, people like Anat Hoffman, Gilad Kariv, and Yizhar Hess are prepared to make the rift this much deeper.
The acronym Elul in Hebrew stands for “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li” – I am for my lover and my lover is for me. Traditionally we take it to describe the love between us and God, but it works with our fellow Jews, too. Indeed, it appears that one option is bound to fail miserably yet again without the other.
Have a good strife, everyone, and a happy new year.