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Posts Tagged ‘Orthodox Judaism’

For the Sake of Keeping the Bris Milah, Give Up Metzitza B’Peh

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

The Israeli Rabbinate has apparently weighed in on the the Metzitza B’Peh issue (MbP). Sort of. A complaint was filed by an anti-circumcision activist against Yehudah Teichtal, a Habad rabbi in Germany who did this procedure on a baby immediately after circumcising him.

Rabbi Teichtal contacted the Chief Rabbinate in Israel requesting a response. He got one. From the Forward:

Moshe Morsiano, chair of the Division of Circumcision for the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, emphasized in a letter dated April 22 that there is no justification for avoiding metzitzah b’peh “unless the mohel has a sore in his mouth, or some infectious disease.”

What is interesting about this response is the deceptive nature of it. (Although I do not believe it was purposely done that way). From the tone it sounds like MbP should almost always be done. And that only in the rarest of circumstances should it be avoided.

I suppose the reason they framed it this way is because of the centuries old tradition of doing so. But the second part of that letter is of no less significance. In fact I would say it is the most important part of it and indicates the exact opposite. It says that MbP should be avoided if the mohel has a sore in his mouth or some infectious disease.

To me that tells the whole story. Those who carry the herpes virus cannot always tell when it is present in the mouth. It is not always symptomatic in the early stages. A mohel can have the virus and not be at all aware of it. To me that says loudly and clearly that MbP should be avoided at all times. If cold sores can be asymptomatic there is always a risk of it being there.

It should also be clear from Rabbi Morsiano’s statement that he too believes that MbP is not a requirement. Or he wouldn’t have suggested using an alternative method of doing metzitza under any circumstances.

In an era where so much more is known about transmission of diseases by the mouth… and where there are strong indications that some babies have contracted herpes around the time they were circumcised from an infected mohel … and where the CDC advises against it, I don’t see how anyone can do MbP. Even by the Chief Rabbinate’s standards.

The fact that this happened in Germany where circumcision itself is being challenged is significant. I think it highlights the damage that is done by equating MbP with circumcision itself as those who are fighting the New York City Department of health are saying. More than once I have heard that equation being made. Some accuse outright that New York is trying to outlaw circumcision. Others either imply it or say that outlawing MbP is a slippery slope that could lead to outlawing circumcision completely.

If we give the those who oppose circumcision this kind of ammunition, they will have something to base their accusations that a bris is a barbaric procedure that endangers the lives of innocent little babies! No doubt that is what the anti circumcision activist who filed a complaint in Germany was thinking. If a mohel insists on a dangerous procedure that he says is a religious requirement, he will have a leg to stand on. This is not a leg that we should concede. Because aside from the tragic results that may occur on a baby and his family, the impact it could have on Bris Mila itself could be devastating.

Even though there are so many Poskim that do not – including the Chief Israeli Rabbinate I realize that Chasidim do consider MbP to be a Halachic requirement. This is why I would oppose any legislation that would outlaw it. But I do support the NY health department requirement that parents be informed of the danger honestly. And by honestly I would include the concession that the chance of infection is indeed very low. But I would at the same time insist that as low as it is, it is real.

I therefore reassert my plea that the Agudah withdraw its opposition to this requirement. Because the more we oppose requirements by experts in the field with no axe to grind against Judaism; people whose intentions are only the health and welfare of the public – the more we endanger circumcision itself. The anti circumcision people are no doubt looking very carefully at what is happening in Germany… and that will certainly influence their actions here. Eizehu Chacham? Ha Roeah Es HaNolad!

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And Hate the Sinner Too

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Let me surprise you for a moment. The reason that tragedies, like the outrageous terrorist bombing in Boston this week, continue to take place is not because the world lacks love but rather because it doesn’t have enough hate. Living in a Christian world that teaches us to “love the sinner,” we find excuses for evil and refuse to dedicated ourselves fully to its destruction.

North Korea is a case in point. As the young, brutal, dictator Kim Jong Un threatens the world with nuclear Armageddon, we continue to make him the butt of late-night jokes. As the world stood by and watched, North Korea launched a satellite into space in December of last year and conducted another nuclear test this past February. It has vocalized its plans to attack the United States with nuclear weapons and is building missiles to achieve that end.

Still, we refuse to hate the man, depicting him rather as a moron who watches movies with Dennis Rodman. Visiting North Korea in February, the NBA space alien called Un “a friend for life” and announced plans to “have some fun” with Un again in August, saying he “just wants to be loved.” Through all this one of the world’s deadliest dictators inspires laughter rather than loathing, engendering entertainment rather than contempt. Forget the fact that his father starved 3 million people to death in order to feed his million-man army, a policy that the young monster continues or that he terrorizes South Korea and the rest of the region. It’s an amazing thing. To be part of a regime that has slaughtered millions of people and to remain a fun curiosity to the rest of the world rather than an object of the deepest revulsion.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also regularly portrayed as, at worst, a clown and is given podiums at America’s leading universities. Iran adds to this comedy with its foreign ministry recently scolding both America and North Korea to use restraint and not promote “provocative behavior.” As foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, “We think that the event that is intensifying between North Korea, South Korea and the United states should be controlled as soon as possible. Both parties should not move toward a corner in which there is a threatening climate.” Our reaction to such absurdity is to look upon the evil and lethal regime of Iran as a collection of buffoons. But make no mistake. They are deadly serious.

Sadly, the refusal to hate evil has become de regeur in world diplomacy. Speaking of the arch-murderer Hafez Al Assad at the time of his death, President Clinton said, “I have met him many times and gotten to know him very well. We had our differences, but I always respected him.” Respected the man who mowed down thousands of his own people with tanks in Hama? And was your refusal to abhor the man  perhaps responsible for why his son thinks he can get away with the same thing?

Forgetting how to hate can be just as damaging as forgetting how to love. Immersed as we are in a Christian culture that exhorts us to “turn the other cheek,” this can sound quite absurd. Yet exhortations to hate all manner of evil abound in our Bible. God Himself hates every form of wickedness as harmful to mankind.  Thus the book of Proverbs declares, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” Likewise, King David declares regarding the cruel: “I have hated them with a deep loathing. They are as enemies to me.”

Hatred is a valid emotion, an appropriate response, when directed at the truly evil. Contrary to Christianity, which advocates turning the other cheek to belligerence and loving the wicked, Judaism obligates us to despise and resist evil at every turn. In my book “Kosher Jesus” I explain that Jesus said to “love your enemies,” not God’s enemies. The former are those who steal your parking space. The latter are those engaged in genocide. Likewise, when Jesus said “turn the other cheek,” he meant to petty slights and insults, not to mass murder.

When I served as Rabbi at Oxford the BBC had me discussing the tragic bombing of a gay pub that killed three people. I referred to the bomber as a wicked abomination. On the line was President Clinton’s spiritual advisor at the time, Pastor Tony Campolo, who cautioned that we had to love the bomber in the spirit of compassion and forgiveness. In England I remember so vividly as victims of IRA terrorist attacks, who lost fathers or husbands, often immediately announced their forgiveness and love for the murderers.

Changing the Paradigm of the Haredi Jew

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

I have just read Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz’s article defending the Haredi way of life as the quintessential way for a Jew to live …and criticizing those who believe that Judaism is not a “one size fits all’ religion. He is entitled to his opinion. And I am entitled to believe he is wrong. I don’t know how many times I have written about why I think so. Probably too many to count. So I am not going to do it here.
What I will say is that it isn’t just that he disagrees. It is the condescending way in which he does it. It is beyond his understanding that a Rabbi Dov Lipman who self identifies as Haredi can say the things he did, things which contradict the Haredi narrative.

Rabbi Lipschutz does a nice job explaining what he believes Haredism is about. It is about

“basking in the glow of Abaye and Rava, Rashi and Tosafos, the Rambam, the Ramban and the Rashba, the Ketzos and the Nesivos, Rav Chaim and Rav Aharon, as well as the giants of our day.”

OK. I understand that. Limud HaTorah in his world is exactly that: the joy of studying the minutia of the Talmud and all of its commentaries. It is about trying to understand its subtleties and absorbing its entire corpus and discussion of biblical and rabbinic law – which is the source of Jewish law as we practice it today. To use a phrase the Yeshiva world uses – it is about the geshmak of learning Torah.

In the course of extolling the virtues of the Haredi way of life that he cherishes – he attacks those who veer even slightly form that narrative. Only this time it is not the secular or Dati Leumi crowd. It is Rabbi Dov Lipman who has himself imbibed in the “Geshmak of Torah.” He has “basked in the glow” of all those great historic religious figures. As a self-defined Haredi he has never really left it.

I’m sure he still agrees that if one is capable, has the love and commitment to it, he should do exactly that: continue basking in it. Those who have this kind of dedication and discipline are the rabbinic leaders of the future. No matter what hashkafa one has, there is no question that Torah knowledge is paramount to rabbinic leadership.

Unfortunately Rabbi Lipschutz does not understand that. He sees Rabbi Lipman as some sort of sellout. Why? Well for one thing because he dares to praise as heroes those who are kovieh itim (set times) and learn Torah whenever they can – but spend most of their time supporting their families.

Rabbi Lipschutz obviously sees them as second-class citizens. They no longer bask in the glow of a R. Akiva Eiger for example. They must suffice with learning daf yomi (a page daily) on a train on their way to work. It’s not that Rabbi Lipschutz criticizes them. Its that he criticizes Rabbi Lipman for praising them as the true heroes.

They are true heroes. They are moser nefesh for limud HaTorah and do so even though they spend a full day working to support their families. Either by waking up early and learning in a shiur or with a havrusa before shachrit, learning late at night, or on their way to work on a train. Are these people any less valuable than an Avreich who spends the entire day learning – leaving support for his family to others (e.g. his wife, parents, in-laws, or the Israeli taxpayer)?

R. Lipschutz is critical of the philosophy that values equity in army service, claiming that for the first time, the status quo agreement reached with Israel’s first prime minister David Ben Gurion exempting Yeshiva students will be broken. He is critical of Rabbi Lipman for joining in the political party that advocates that. And he is even critical of Orthodox Jews who have welcomed him into their synagogues to hear his views.

None are as blind as those who will not see. Rabbi Lipshitz is guilty of willful blindness. The kind that refuses to see or understand that no one in Israel wants to destroy the Haredi way of life (except for some on the fringes of the left). Least of all Rabbi Lipman. He actually wants to save it by creating a way for Haredim to be more self sufficient and do their fair share.

Army service is about sharing the burden. It is also about mainstreaming Haredim into the workplace so that they can earn a livable wage and support their families. It is not about destroying a way of life… unless we are talking a way of life that is rapidly descending into a poverty in ways that they will not be able to overcome.

An Autonomous Haredi State: Having Their Cake and Eating It Too

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

The Haredi publication Hamodia (as reported by The Jewish Press) has called for establishment of their own autonomous zone in Israel. The feel that they have been mistreated.

Here is how the Times of Israel put it:

As the Knesset works on legislation that could see most ultra-Orthodox men required to serve in the IDF or other national service frameworks, and planned budget cuts threaten the community’s already strained economy, Hamodia, the mouthpiece of the ultra-Orthodox Agudat Yisrael party, suggested self-rule was the best answer to unwanted secular intrusion.

Hamodia said:

Autonomy means independent administrative rule for internal matters without sovereign political status, with legal and financial independence and police, but without an army or foreign policy.

I find this approach to be both intriguing and at the same time very self serving. And frankly somewhat humorous. I have always thought that places like Meah Shearim ought to be given what they want – complete independence from the State of Israel. They don’t think that the Jewish people have a right to their own state pre-Moshiach? That’s fine. Give them Meah Shearim and they can give it to which ever non-Jews they choose to live under. I hear that there are some Palestinians that might be interested.

But this is different. Hamodia isn’t talking about only the rejectionist Jews of Meah Shearim. They are talking about all Haredim – including those who have in the past worked with the government.

And they aren’t talking about seceding from Israel. They are talking about living there autonomously. They want to build a society of their own. They claim to have the ability to build their own infrastructure. They will have their own judicial system; their own political system; their own electric companies, roads, water works… and everything else necessary for a society to function independently. They look to Haredi cities likes Bnei Brak and Beitar as their models for success.

Really? Hamodia thinks that a society that does not educate their children in anything but Torah study will enable them to build a society that functions? Where are they going to get people with the expertise to build all of the necessary components of a modern society? The engineers, the doctors, the dentists, the lawyers, the accountants, the urban planners, the police, the judges and the myriad other trained people who will be qualified to do the things that a city needs to function? From Brisk?

But let us grant that they will somehow find a way. Maybe they will change the paradigm a bit to allow some of their students to learn those disciplines so that they can have such a society. (Although I doubt it.)

But here is the problem. They still want army protection. That is the advantage of having autonomy. You can then eat your cake and have it too. They will graciously allow secular and Dati Leumi Israelis to put their lives on the line for them. Isn’t this what the whole debate is about in the first place?!

It does not cease to amaze me how clueless some of these people are. How can they think that this would in any way be acceptable? How will this new autonomous entity share the burden? Maybe they think this is all about money… that their offer to live autonomously means that they will relieve the Israeli taxpayer of the burden of supporting them. I don’t know… that is an enticing concept. But if so, where will they get the money to replace what they receive now? How will this under-educated (aside from Torah knowledge) class with little marketable skills survive?

The only way their sincerity about living autonomously can be tested is if we require them to have their own army. That would be fair. Without it… all this amounts to is formalizing the status quo with respect to sharing the burden. Only they will be doing so in the form of an autonomous state. Why would the government of Israel want to do that? In my view it would be an act of true humanitarian nature to deny this option to them. Because they will surely fail – even if they are granted protection by the IDF.

What about Bnei Brak or Beitar? I doubt they could exist as autonomous states. Don’t they realize that?

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Protesting the ‘Evil Decree’? Why Not a Counter Rally?

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

I don’t know who is behind this rally. But it is quite clear that those who are sponsoring it do not have any warm or fuzzy feelings for the State of Israel. Yet on this day… when literally millions of Jews in Israel are celebrating the birth of their modern State, it has been announced via Matzav that a rally will take place this coming Sunday in New York City to say Tehillim about the ‘terrible’ gezeirah (decree) being enacted by the Israeli government. From Matzav:

Matzav.com has learned that feverish )arrangements are being made for an atzeres tefillah to be held this coming Sunday, April 21, on New York City in light of the gezeiros being enacted by the government in Israel, specifically the implementation of a draft that would remove bochurim from their yeshivos and place them in the Israel Defense Forces. With the threat of the mandatory draft hanging over the yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel, and the budget cuts that have slashed funding to mekomos haTorah, the Olam Hatorah in the Holy Land is facing daunting weeks and months ahead

“The gathering will not be a protest against the Israeli government,” an event organizer told Matzav.com, “but rather purely a tefillah gathering, for thousands of Yidden to beseech Hashem for mercy at this most trying time. It will not be a political event.”

A kol koreh signed by leading rabbonim and roshei yeshiva encouraging attendance at the atzeres tefillah is currently being compiled and will be released as early as later today.

The gathering, to be held in downtown Manhattan, will feature the recital of Tehillim, divrei hisorerus, and kabbolas ohl Malchus Shomayim. The exact time of the event has not been released, though it is expected to be some time in the early afternoon.

I have to marvel at the way this is being characterized by the organizers. They say it will not be a protest against the Israeli government while practically in the same breath they speak about gezierot ( …as in ‘evil’ gezeirot. In their circles when one uses that term, they do not mean it as a compliment.)

Although I have expressed disappointment and opposition to the way this is being handled by rabbinic leaders in Israel and even here, I understand their angst. And their desire to be spared this ordeal. Their emphasis on prayer to God to relieve them of this ‘burden’ is therefore understandable too.

Even though I understand it, I do not support it. Far from it. In my view doing this in the middle of Manhattan in broad daylight is still a loud and terrible statement to be making to the world. The world will not understand that they are not protesting Israel no matter how they parse it in statements like the above announcement in Matzav. They can say all day long that they are not protesting Israel. The fact that they will be out there in the middle of Manhattan talking about “gezeirot” says otherwise.

Had they done so indoors in private setting it would be one thing. People can pray for whatever they want in private. Doing so in public does not add to their prayers. It instead speaks to their opposition to the State – protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. Actions like this speak louder than any explanation. And how will news of this feel to those IDF soldiers who risk their lives daily?

I don’t know who the signatories to this kol korei will be. But I would urge prominent rabbanim of any stripe not to sign it. I doubt that God will see any greater value of this prayer rally being done in public over being done in private. The only value it will have is to bring publicity to them. In my view very negative publicity.

Can it really be the case that rabbinic leaders think God will listen better to them if they do so in public? And how will it be seen by the New York City public that will be forced to be inconvenienced by the almost certain traffic jams this rally will cause? Is unnecessarily inconveniencing the public – and making them angry at us – the way to God’s “heart”?

If the streets are going to be blocked off for this prayer rally anyway, I would love to see a counter rally in close proximity held by members of mizrachi where there will also be Kabbolas Ol Malchus Shamyim. But the Divrei Hisorerus and Tehilim will be said for the safety of IDF soldiers instead.

There should be nothing negative said against the other rally. There should be no bashing of the other side at all. Just a pro Israel rally for the troops and a lot of flag waving… Israeli flags, of course.

This would speak volumes to our brothers and sisters in arms across the ocean risking their lives daily to fight our enemies while protecting our country. Wouldn’t it be nice if some of those attending the other rally would come over and join? That would be a Kiddush HaShem in my view. Frankly I think God might better appreciate those prayers than the other ones.

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Wrapped in Plastic and Hilul HaShem

Monday, April 15th, 2013

There was an interesting blurb in last week’s Mishpacha about a p’sak (Halachic decision) by Rav Elyashiv.

When candidate Barack Obama visited Israel in 2008, he wanted to visit the Kotel and asked that he be given access in the early morning hours so as to avoid the crowds. The Kotel Rabbi, R’ Shumel Rabinowitz, felt that bringing a U.S. Presidential candidate, his entourage, and the attendant crush of media people would be disruptive to those who daven k’vosekin – praying at sunrise. So he asked R’ Elyashiv whether he should accommodate his request.

R’ Elyashiv said that candidate Obama should absolutely be allowed to visit the Kotel at his convenience. Since (then) Senator Obama represented the United States – a Malchus Shel Chesed (‘kingdom of kindness’) – he was deserving of the utmost respect.

Would that all of Jewry have this attitude. Unfortunately there are some of us who have a slightly different approach. While not really the same thing, I can’t help contrasting this attitude with what has to be the latest example of Judaism made to look stupid… all in the name of Torah observance.

There is a picture of a Haredi-looking individual in flight wrapped up in a plastic bag. This picture has gone viral… as has a video of some young people ridiculing it on an online TV program.

What people like this fellow have accomplished over the years is to create an atmosphere whereby their extremism in the cause of humra (stringency) has brought ridicule upon us. The humra of this generation is tznius. I need not go into how far some of these extremes have taken us into the area of ridicule. Just to mention one example – the time where the Haredi mayor of Beitar Illit was reprimanded because he forgot to photoshop his wife out a picture of a group of people surrounding a snowman they built!

The young pundits on this program thought he covered himself up in a plastic bag because he wanted to avoid contact with the women on the plane. That reaction was no doubt generated by constant barrage of ‘tznius extremism’ by extremist Haredim brought to public attention by the media. Not an unreasonable conclusion. But it was immediately made clear that that was not his motivation. He was a Kohen and sought to protect himself from tumah – spiritual contamination.

Although there are a few exceptions we no longer practice these laws. But Kohanim (those who descend from the priestly line of the first Kohen, the biblical Aaron) – do. A Kohen must avoid any contact that would make him spiritually unclean. In most cases this means avoiding corpses. There are various ways that they go about this. The laws are very complex. One of those ways is by avoiding being in the same room with a corpse or passing over a grave site. Tumah rises straight up in the open air (it does not spread sideways) and fills up any enclosed area.

This fellow probably feared that there was a corpse on board. (That is occasionally the case as many people who wish to be buried in Israel after they die are transported as cargo on board commercial flights). One of the ways a Kohen can be protected is by being in his own enclosure. That will prevent the tumah from entering and contaminating him spiritually. My guess is that this was his goal.

In a vacuum I have no problem with him doing that. But on a commercial fight where normal people are on board, this can only bring ridicule upon our people. It was not necessary for him to do that. There are better ways for a Kohen to avoid tumah. Not being a Kohen myself, I am not the one to advise him. But I don’t think there is a single Kohen who has ever wrapped himself up in a plastic bag. And they all take flights. They find ways which are normal to avoid a problem that is specific to them.

Obviously this fellow didn’t care what people said about him. Frankly neither do I. But I do care what people say about the Jewish people.

When a gadol says that we must honor a political leader in the U.S. because he represents the United States, that is a kiddush HaShem. When a Jew who appears to the world as the most religious among us acts like a fool that is a hilul HaShem. That this fellow doesn’t realize what he has done with his foolishness – or worse, doesn’t care – is why I constantly criticize it when it happens.

I wish I didn’t have to. But unfortunately this kind of behavior seems to be on the increase. Why is this so? I’ve said this before. The insularity in which they live breeds both ignorance of the outside world and contempt for it. In these circles non-Jews are at best tolerated. But they are looked down upon. Or worse seen as anti-Semites. The attitude I often hear them express about “goyim” is that they hate us anyway so why bother being decent to them?! They hide their contempt when they seek public benefits. The condescension to non-Jews is expressed only among themselves. Trouble is that it is not only wrong but only a ignoramus born of insularity would ever think that they can keep this attitude private.

So now once again, I am forced to disavow and protest that this fellow’s behavior very loudly. It has nothing to do with normative Jewish behavior. No matter what his motive was.

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The Sharansky Option

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Natan Sharansky has come up with a plan that he feels is a workable compromise between Charedim and heterodox movements. It will enable people to attend egalitarian prayer services (where men and women have equal stature in all ritual aspects of a Minyan) at the Kotel (the Western Wall), Israel’s holiest accessible site. I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu supports it.

There has been a lot of controversy at the Kotel in recent times where some women have tried to buck traditional practices at the Kotel by holding unusual services there. The Women of the Wall (WoW) have tried to have a monthly women’s prayer service there that includes such traditional male modalities as wearing a talit, and reading the Torah.

This has disturbed the Haredi world since it is such a wide departure from tradition – which has always dictated practices at the Kotel. They complained to the government. The government responded with new rules about a woman wearing a talit that has resulted in multiple arrests every Rosh Hodesh (new month of the Jewish calendar) when WOW tires to hold its services at the main plaza. It happened again a few days ago.

I have in the past argued against this group because I felt that they were more about demanding women’s religious rights than they were about serving God in ways they choose to do so. There was no rule against their having any type of service they choose at a different location along the Kotel called “Robinson’s Arch.” But they have chosen to do their service at the main Kotel Plaza and thereby upset the traditional worshipers there who feel that at best they are a distraction.

That these women are sincere in their devotion to God is somewhat undermined by their insistence that they use an area used by traditionalists who have always done their prayer services quietly and individually without drawing any attention to themselves.

The argument by WoW and their supporters is that people should have the right to pray anywhere they choose along the main Kotel Plaza and they insist on doing so to make a point of that.

I have come around to the view that these women should be left alone. As long as they are not disruptive – who cares if they are wearing a talit… or reading from the Torah?! At the same time if conflict can be avoided – it should be. If WoW could be given a place that is both free and similar in size to the main Kotel Plaza, I think they should take it and avoid any future conflict.

Sharansky’s proposal addresses another women’s issue – egalitarian minyan. This is not WoW. There are no men in their group. Technically I suppose there are no Halachic issues with WoW – other than breaking traditional non-Halachic taboos.

But feminism has given rise to egalitarianism in heterodox movements. In order to preserve the peace and accommodate both Haredim and those who seek egalitarian minyanim – he has proposed that Robinson’s Arch (which is out of view from the main Kotel plaza) be expanded so that its space equal that of the main Kotel Plaza… and that there be free access to it in the future. This would in essence be the actual realization of separate but equal rights for heterodox movements.

Just to be clear about mixed setting for prayer at the Kotel… I don’t think this is an issue. The only place where there is a requirement to separate the sexes via a mechitza (partition) is where there is Kedushat Beit HaKnesset. That means that only in a synagogue does a woman’s presence interfere with the minyan. Outside of a synagogue, women may be present… as is the case at weddings or banquets in hotels where there are ad hoc minyanim for Mincha and Maariv all the time. Women are present and in view of the men. They are not separated by any partition.

The question about whether the Kotel serves as a Shul has been answered by history. Archival photos show that in pre-state days going back to the 19th century – men and women were not separated when they came to pray at the Kotel. I do not therefore believe that the Kotel area can be classified as having Kedushat Beit HaKnesset.

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