Posts Tagged ‘Kotel’
Tens of thousands of Jews prayed at the Western Wall Sunday, the fourth day of Sukkot, and received the traditional priestly blessing of dozens of Kohenim, but no Women of the Wall tried to join.
Kohenim are of the priestly tribe traced to the Biblical High Priest Aaron.
The Women of the Wall have campaigned vigorously the past year to pressure for the same religious standing of men to read from a Torah scroll and wear tefillin at the Western Wall. They have succeeded in winning the right to pray as they wish at the southern section of the Western Wall, known as Robinson’s Arch and not adjacent to the more widely-known section of the Wall.
So why didn’t they try to prove again that “equal” mean the “same” and presume they are Kohenim. Don’t Reform Jews deserve their blessing?
The Reform movement generally maintains a policy of “equality” and rejects the distinctions between Kohenim and other Israeli tribes, but some Reform and Conservative prayer groups allow the daughter of a Kohen to perform the Priestly Blessing.
The same prayer groups also call a daughter of a Kohen to the reading of the Torah, in place of the traditional recognition of a Kohen for the Torah portion that is chanted in Israel on the Sabbath, holidays, Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of the month and on Mondays and Thursdays.
The Kohenim were active in sacrifices in the Holy Temples, and Reform and Conservative thought concludes that since the Temples have been destroyed and there are no sacrifices today, the designation of a Kohen is either out of date or is not restricted to men. The Conservative movement is split with two opposing opinions on whether a daughter of a Kohen can perform the Priestly Blessing.
Most Reform and Conservative congregations omit the Priestly Blessing, which in Orthodox congregations in the Diaspora are performed only on the three festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. The blessing is recited toward the end of the additional Musaf prayers. Reform Jews usually don’t bother themselves with praying too much, and they delete Musaf.
Reform Rabbi Jeffrey W. Goldwasser posted on a website “More liberal communities, those that insist on thorough gender equality, do not observe the distinction of Kohanim and Levi’im at all.”
Reform Jews, with their 11th Commandment of equality, declare that all Jews are equal in their functions as Jews. All of us are the same. Everyone is a priest, everyone can wear tefillin, everyone can read from the Torah, and everyone can do pretty much as he or she pleases.
That begs one question: If all are equal, if Jewish law rejects the Torah as the living law of today, and if every Jew can understand the Torah as he wants, why is there such a thing as a Reform “rabbi”?
So much for equality.
On Wednesday morning, following Arab calls for disturbances on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, one policeman was injured in the face and needed to be taken for medical treatment.
Israeli Police dispersed approximately 20 Arab youths on the Temple Mount who were throwing stones at them. Another dozen ran inside the mosque and locked the door to avoid arrest.
Police managed to arrest two of the stone throwers, and a third Arab who was inciting the rest of the mob to attack.
On Tuesday, police arrested two leaders of the Islamic Movement in northern Israel, on suspicion that they called for Arab riots on the Temple Mount.
The Temple Mount is now quiet.
Jordan has condemned the plan for a new area at the Western Wall to accommodate the Women of the Wall organization’s demand for an area for them to pray in an “egalitarian” minyan in which they can wear tefillin and read from a Torah scroll. Orthodox Judaism considers women as “equal but not the same” as men, who have an obligation to wear tefillin and pray in a minyan.
Their campaign offended Haredim and many Orthodox Jews, but with broad support from the Diaspora and media outlets that love issues of quality and women’s rights without knowing what they are talking about, The Women of the Wall succeeded.
Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to come up with a solution for the women without causing a religious war at the Western Wall, came up with a compromise for the women to pray as they wish at the southern section of the Wall, known as the Kotel.
The WoW were not happy with the compromise, but that is another story.
More urgent, Jordan also is not happy.
The women forgot that although the Western Wall is the city of Jerusalem, totally under Israeli sovereignty, Jordan thinks differently, despite the peace treaty with Israel.
It states that Israel “respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem…. The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.”
Israel has recognized Jordan as the “custodian” of the Al Aqsa mosque built over the ruins of the Holy Temples.
However, Israel did not take into consideration that Yasser Arafat would start a terrorist war to declare the Jewish Quarter of the Old City the capital of a new Arab state. Nor did it take into account that his successor Mahmoud Abbas is as much too clever politician.
Earlier this year, while Israel assumed that the PA was slowing crumbling into non-existence economically and politically, Abbas’ adviser Adnan Husseini declared that the Western Wall “is part of Islamic heritage that cannot be given up, and it must be under Muslim control.”
This past March 31, Abbas and King Abdullah reached an agreement that “His Majesty King ‘Abdullah II, as the custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites, will exert all possible efforts to preserve [these] sites, especially Al-Haram Al-Sharif [The Al-Aqsa Mosque]… and to represent their interests.” The agreement states further that King ‘Abdullah is responsible for ensuring respect for the holy places, guaranteeing the Muslims’ freedom of movement to and from the sites, ensuring their maintenance and representing their interests in the international arena.”
The catch is what is a “Muslim site?”
The Arab world has spent the past few years to translate history into fiction and declare that the Western Wall is a Muslim site. So who are these uppity Jewish women, Orthodox, Reform or otherwise, to have the chutzpa to make a change at a supposed Muslim site without consulting with the “Custodian”?
Jordanian Minister for Media Affairs, Mohammad Momani condemned Israel’s “construction of a stage in the southern part of the Buraq Square which is adjacent to Al Aqsa-Mosque’s wall,” the Petra News Agency reported Monday.
Note that the Western Wall is now “Al Aqsa Mosque’s Wall,” the one where holy Arabs claim the holy Mohammed tied his holy horse.
“Momani, who is also government spokesman, said the move is a blatant attack on the Muslim monuments and Waqf land which is an integral part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, demanding Israeli occupation authorities to remove the stage and the damage it caused as soon as possible,” the news agency reported.
Furthermore, “The minister stressed Jordan’s stance in exerting political, diplomatic and legal efforts to protect and care for Muslim and Christian sanctities [sic] in Jerusalem.
“Momani warned of Jewish settlers and extremists’ continued call to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque under the pretext of Jewish holidays, expressing regret over Israel’s disregard of international conventions and resolutions.”
Are the Women of the Wall listening?
Jordan’s policy is “to protect and care for Muslim and Christian ‘sanctities’ in Jerusalem.”
There is one word missing: Jewish.
The Women of the Wall never even dreamed about praying at the Kotel during the Jordanian Occupation, when Jews and Christians were prohibited from visiting holy places. Jordan has made lots of progress since then.
Now it is willing to open up holy places for Christians, and the Jews can wait for the next peace treaty.
As for the Jews “storming” the Temple Mount, that is the de rigeur term now used by the Arab press when police and Muslim escort Jews to make sure they do not commit the crime of taking a prayer book with them while ascending the Temple Mount.
The Women of the Wall have not spoken out about the discrimination against Jews trying to pray on the Temple Mount.
They have said they are focused on their own self-acclaimed rights.
The Women of the Wall, most of them Americans, do not understand with whom they are dealing. Haredim are not their enemies. Judaism is not their enemy.
Their enemies are those who demand that Jews stop being Jews.
Once they understand that, perhaps King Abdullah and Abbas will understand that while can get what they want if they deal with the Israeli government, they should never test the wrath of women.
Maybe Israel should consider sending the Women of the Wall to negotiate with Abbas.
By David Wiseman, The Israel Forever Foundation
My grandmother is a week shy of her 98th birthday. She is the last remaining of my four grandparents and, unfortunately, she hasn’t been feeling well recently and is now in the hospital.
The moment I heard the news, I decided to visit the Kotel (The Western Wall), since I’m blessed to live only minutes away in Jerusalem. So, after work I headed down and was met by those massive stones. As I surveyed the scene, I saw people of all ages. There are no atheists in these foxholes and I must say that it is very hard to find one at the Kotel. Most feel the power of the stones and from there, emotions are let loose.
If tears could melt stone, the Kotel wouldn’t be standing.
If hopes and dreams could make them fly, there would be a wall floating around somewhere in space.
One paradox about the Kotel is the concept of time. It is governed by time – the time to pray three times a day. The thousands who visit it on Shabbat and even more during the Jewish holidays.
On the other hand, it is timeless. For thousands of years it hasn’t just been a physical landmark, but an emotional one. My grandmother was born in 1915. Israel didn’t come into existence until she was 32, and she was only 51 when Jerusalem was reunified.
Thankfully, she has been to the Kotel, but there will come a time when her journey will come to an end, like all of us. I’ve realized, though, that our connection to Israel, the Jewish people – this connection is timeless. We’ve been exiled and scattered and despite being stretched to the four corners of the world, our hearts, thoughts and prayers have always aimed towards Jerusalem.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Kotel many times, and every time I am overwhelmed by a cocktail of emotions – excitement, joy and a sense of ease. Every time I leave it is with a sense of remorse.
Farewells are never easy – not to the Kotel and especially not to a grandparent. But with the upcoming Jewish New Year, my next prayer at the Kotel will be that my beloved grandmother will be granted a Sweet New Year and inscribed in the Book of Life.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky will release his full plan for a compromise among religious groups at the Western Wall in two weeks, Haaretz reported.
Under Sharansky’s plan, first reported in April, an existing egalitarian section of the wall known as Robinson’s Arch would be expanded and a unified entrance would be built leading to the wall’s traditional and egalitarian sections. Robinson’s Arch would be open at all times, as opposed to now, when it is open for a few hours per day.
The expanded section for egalitarian prayer would be run by a joint commission of the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency and representatives of world Jewry. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which runs the current Western Wall Plaza, would continue to run the traditional section.
Arab rock throwing continued on Tuesday, this time striking in the spiritual heart of Israel with an attack on an Egged public bus carrying passengers to the Western Wall.
One woman was lightly wounded in the rock attack and was treated at the scene. The Arab attackers fled.
Women of the Wall blew a shofar at the back of the Western Wall Plaza and raised a Torah scroll at the plaza’s gate as they completed their service under a heavy police barricade.
Police wouldn’t let them bring a Torah scroll into the service, but before entering the plaza, the group sang as one woman held a scroll at the plaza’s gate.
One small step for woman holding scroll. No discernable big step for anybody.
Police acted on the side of caution, because, as they had done a month ago, thousands of seminary girls packed the plaza by the Wall and prayed quietly during Wednesday morning’s service.
None of the young women blew a shofar or pass the Torah around, but they did say Hallel, and Mussaf, quietly.
So police decided to barricade the 300 or so Women of the Wall and their male supporters at the back of the plaza, far away from the Wall, behind a heavy police barricade, a 15-foot buffer zone and two lines of police, according to the JTA report.
A WOW statement complained that they were “corralled into a small pen in the Western Wall Plaza, 150 meters from the Kotel. This, despite requests of Women of the Wall and MK Aliza Lavie, chair of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women (Lavie in a letter to Minister of Internal Security Aharonowitz), to allow women to pray freely, according to their tradition at the holy site.”
Meanwhile, over at the men’s section, Haredim blew whistles and chanted insults. One Haredi guy chanted psalms into a megaphone, disrupting the WOW service.
The WOW statement accused Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, appointed administrator of the Western Wall and holy places, of leading prayers and addressing worshipers over this loudspeaker while the WOW attempted to pray together.
“The sound system is for public use,” they wrote, “and yet never in 25 years has it been used on Rosh Chodesh, until last month. Rabinowitz chose to use his status to take a biased and discriminatory stance: to drown out women’s prayer in favor of his own.”
In other words, a kind of Mutually Assured Disturbance was observed by both sides.
Women of the Wall chair Anat Hoffman said, “We will not forget that the Torah is exiled from the Western Wall, due to the discriminatory misuse of power by Rabbi Rabinowitz. Israel is the only democracy in the world that by law prohibits women from reading Torah. Unfortunately, the only people who felt at home today at the Kotel were the ultra-Orthodox worshippers and the police and Rabinowitz collaborated towards this end.”
Except, whenever this reporter asks the WOW to comment on the similarities between their case and the exile of Jews from setting foot freely, much less praying, on the Temple Mount, they clam up and declare those are totally different things. Freedom is freedom is freedom, unless you are a religious hypocrite, with whom this country has been richly blessed.
JTA noted that over the two Rosh Chodesh days, last month and today, a new status quo has developed at the Wall during the Women of the Wall attempted service: Orthodox girls arrive en masse and pray quietly next to the Wall, Police place Women of the Wall under a heavy barricade, and protesters try to interrupt them.
Two months ago, the protesters were “raucous and violent,” meaning they threw chairs at the WOW, this time things were relatively civil. And by the time WOW leader Hoffman blew the shofar, most of the protesters had already dispersed.
“More than ten women blew shofar together at the Kotel, as is traditional in the Jewish month of Elul preceding the high holy days,” reads the WOW statement. “The sounding of the ram’s horn symbolizes Women of the Wall’s perseverance and determination to see justice for women at the Western Wall, in Israel and around the World.”
Not so much justice as a little bit of civility. You don’t want to be drowned out by megaphones, please don’t do stuff that upsets folks who have been davening here since 1967. It appears the WOW are learning a hard lesson of what happens when you really awaken a Haredi lion from his/her slumber. It’s been known to bite.
Let’s hope nobody forgot to say Ya’aleh V’yavo – which you can always say later, during benching.