Posts Tagged ‘prayer’
Israel Patt, the legal advisor of the Ministry of Religious Services, on Thursday determined that the Kotel Rabbi cannot legally prevent the mixed afternoon prayer being planned by the Reform and Conservative in the Kotel Plaza.
The decision to hold the mixed service—in the common area leading up to the men’s and women’s section—was reached by the leadership of both movements in Israel in response to the confrontational prayer service with a mehitzah-divider that was conducted on Tuesday by Jerusalem Chief Rabbi, the Rishon Lezion Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar — on the platform at the southern section of the Kotel officially reserved for mixed prayers.
The mixed prayer protest in an area that is not intended for prayer at the Kotel Plaza, had been planned originally to protest the collapse of the Netanyahu government promise to provide “egalitarian” services at the Kotel, which has been reneged on due to fierce objections from the Haredi coalition partners.
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites of Israel initially requested legal advice regarding his authority to use police forces to remove the participants in a mixed service from the plaza.
In an urgent response letter he sent to Rabbi Rabinovitch, Patt insisted that “After examining the issue, after consulting the relevant legal authorities, and on the opinion of the Attorney General, we’ve reached the conclusion that under the current circumstances there is no room for you to exercise your authority to prevent mixed prayer in the upper Kotel plaza.”
The intended mixed prayer service is planned not for the “Kotel sundeck” platform erected by former Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) in 2013, which was re-divided and staked by Rabbi Amar on Tuesday, but rather in the area of the plaza which is past the security check post and before the side-by-side men’s and women’s sections.
The Movement for a Jewish State on Wednesday appealed to the Justice Minister and the Chief of Police to prevent the mixed prayer service in its planned location, calling it a violation of the law and a show of contempt for the legal authorities.
Some photos from the prayer protest can be seen here.JNi.Media
A journalist heard about an old Rabbi who visited the Kotel, the Western Wall, to pray there three time a day, every day for 50 years.
Thinking it was a great story, he traveled to the Kotel, and watched the old man at prayer.
When he finished, the reporter went over to interview the rabbi and asked, “Rabbi, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall to pray?”
“Around 50 years,” the rabbi answered.
“Wow! And what do you pray for?”
“I pray for peace between Jews and Arabs. I pray for an end to hatred and for brotherhood among all the nations.”
“And how do you feel, after doing this for 50 years?” the reporter asked.
The rabbi responded, “Like I’m talking to a wall!”Photo of the Day
On Tuesday morning, Jerusalem Chief Rabbi, the Rishon Lezion Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar conducted a heartfelt prayer with a few dozen supporters in the remote area of the Western Wall known as the “Israelite Section,” which had been designated by the Israeli government for the mixed prayer services of Reform and Conservative visitors.
The chief rabbi’s followers erected an improvised mehitza-divider to separate men and women, in defiance of the government program. After the morning service, Rabbi Amar spoke tearfully, saying “there’s no such thing as the Reform Kotel, there’s only the Holy Kotel.”
“No one can revoke this holiness,” Rabbi Amar continued, “not the government, not the court, you can’t, it’s a hekdesh-sanctuary, it’s the Temple Mount. Not the goyim, not the UN, no power can revoke it. We stand guard and declare that our entire purpose is for the sake of God’s honor, only God’s honor, and the Shechina-emanation of God, and the people of Israel and the Land of Israel.”
Rabbi Amar’s prayer service reflected a perception on the part of many Haredi leaders that the Reform and Conservative movements are making inroads in Israel through the Supreme Court and certain government officials, and are threatening the classic status quo, whereby secular Israelis did not go to shul, but the shul they didn’t go to was Orthodox. Most Israelis are not interested in these American imports, but the fact that the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem went out of his way to condemn Reform access to the Kotel probably gave those two-minute movements a new lease on life.
For the record, the idea for the mixed prayer area by the Kotel came from an Orthodox Jewish politician, then Minister of Religious Services Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), who in 2013 announced the creation of a new prayer area, south of the Mugrabim Gate and north of Robinson’s Arch, an area of 4,844 sq. ft., which is a non-contiguous extension of the Kotel Plaza. It was Bennett’s attempt at solving a 28-year long dispute between the Women of the Wall, a group of largely non-Orthodox Jewish women who have been praying in the Kotel’s women’s section on the first of each Jewish month as well as on select holidays, singing and donning talit and tefillin—all acts which have been provoking ultra-Orthodox Jews since the early 1990s.
While a broad section of ultra-Orthodox public figures attacked the Bennett solution, going as far as to dub it “tzelem ba’heikhal” or a statue in God’s temple, the Women of the Wall group also rejected the minister’s peaceful solution, accusing Bennett of aligning himself with the “extremist” views of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the government-appointed Kotel Rabbi, and of Israel’s chief rabbis (of course, when one accuses the mainstream religious and political leadership of extremism, it would be difficult for her to claim the center).
The WOW also called the special fenced wooden platform Bennett provided for mixed prayers a “sundeck overlooking the Western Wall,” which, come to think of it, could be the name for a bangup real estate bonanza. And the Reform movement over in the US, where they dominate Jewish life, at least on paper, with some two million members (in largely Orthodox Israel they may be noisy but their numbers are puny), announced that the Kotel must be open and accessible to all the Jews and men and women must be treated equally there. In other words, why can’t you all be more Reform, like the rest of us.
The fact is that the Bennett solution, while acquiescing that Israelis who are Reform and Conservative have the right to use a state-owned and funded religious facility, resolves the conflict in a peaceful way, which is not something the Reform and Conservative movements want. Since the platform has been erected, it has been standing empty, first because very few Reform and Conservative Israelis have the time or inclination to regularly fight Jerusalem traffic to go pray at the Kotel when most of them hardly ever pray in their own synagogues during the week; and second because without the opportunity to provoke the Orthodox, what’s the point of schlepping all the way to Jerusalem?
Now, the pushback from the Jerusalem Chief Rabbi has revived the non-Orthodox, whose fundraising and membership largely depends on being the victims of Orthodox “repression.” And so, once again, spokespersons for both movements have condemned the aging rabbi, whose salary is provided by the taxpayers, and who attacks the principles of equality, freedom and the American way.
Perhaps the good chief rabbi of Jerusalem should have taken a hint from the fact that he and his followers were the only ones praying on the Reform “sundeck,” because no one else ever prays there on any given day, and even the Baha’i movement in Israel represents a bigger threat to Orthodox Judaism at the Kotel than do the Reform and Conservative.
The best cure for the WOW phenomenon is probably to let them have their way until they get bored with it. The most recent new month celebration of the WOW, a week ago, attracted fewer than 90 women, and the only coverage it received was a provocation by its CEO, who showed local cops at the end of the service that she had “smuggled” a Torah scroll into the women’s section. Otherwise even she couldn’t get arrested by a largely disinterested police, and couldn’t get covered by the media which is inundated with much bigger stories.JNi.Media
And for the miracles, and for the salvation, and for the mighty deeds, and for the victories, and for the battles which You performed for our forefathers in those days, at this time.In the days of the ingathering of the remnant of Israel from the lands of darkness and the shadow of death to their beloved inheritance, pioneers of the nation arose, raised the flag, composed a declaration, and claimed the right of the nation to be established with its own consent, as a Jewish government in the land of its birth. With song and dance, women and children, the old and the young, celebrated on the streets with joy and rejoicing. At that same time, their enemies converged forthwith, to eliminate all trace of Israel from the land, and to push into the sea all the keepers of its faith. But You hurried forth to rescue your nation. You strengthened the hands of their defenders, and destroyed the weapons of their enemies. A revival of glory you made, a country of beauty you established, the beginning of the longing of the generations, a refuge and a fortress for the return of all Your people.
Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz
The administration of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron has announced it will close its doors to Jews on Wednesday (May 4, Nisan 26) due to the Islamic holiday of Lailat al Miraj.
Both Jews and Muslims pray at the site, where it is believed the Biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah are buried, as well as Adam and Eve.
The holiday of Lailat al Miraj commemorates the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s nighttime journey from Mecca to the ‘farthest mosque’ in Jerusalem, from where Muslims believe he ascended to heaven, was purified, and was given the instruction for Muslims to pray five times a day.
“Prayers and visitation will take place on the Seventh Step,” the administration said in its statement.
The Temple Mount will also be closed to Jews on Wednesday for the same reason.
On Thursday the Cave of the Patriarchs will reopen to Jews beginning at 4 am as usual.Hana Levi Julian
For the third day in a row, Israel Police removed eight Jews from the Temple Mount, five of them by 10 am Tuesday, the fourth day of Passover. Every day so far this week, Jews have been thrown out of the grounds of the Temple Mount by Israeli security forces. On Tuesday, eight were arrested by midday.
Two were removed and arrested for bowing during their tour of the grounds in a manner that resembled the ancient prayers of the holy Temple times, according to a statement by the Honenu legal aid group.
“During visits to the Temple Mount groups the security forces removed three Jewish visitors who violated the rules for visiting the site,” an Israel Police spokesperson said in a statement shortly after 9:30 am. “Visitation hours will continue as planned.” The next two Jews were arrested shortly after.
There have been numerous summary detentions and ejections so far this holiday. Occasionally, a police spokesperson has told media that one or more of the Jews was caught “praying.”
Some Jews actually have been seen dramatically covering their eyes and reciting the “Sh’ma” prayer to the heavens and earth. It is an unusual occurrence these days, and one that is a real act of utter defiance.
The “Sh’ma” is Judaism’s call to the faithful, and a warning to those who are not: “Hear O Israel, the Lord Our God, the Lord is One. Blessed Be His Name Whose glorious Kingdom is forever.”
To a Muslim Arab, it is tantamount to the jihadist’s “Allahu Akbar!” – The Arabic shout of ‘God is Great!’ – yelled just prior to holy war. But most of the time, a Jew recites the Sh’ma prayer as part of routine services three times a day, in addition to every night just before retiring to bed.
However, the Sh’ma is also said on one’s deathbed – and in life-threatening situations, including war – so it is in this respect the prayer parallels the “Allahu Akbar.”
Clearly the Muslims on the Temple Mount are well aware of this, although some of the hapless Jewish tourists who ascend to the site may themselves not be aware of the prayer’s deepest ramifications.
Some of the Jewish tourists are so moved by their experience they murmur recite the only Hebrew prayer they have ever learned, the one passed down to them by their ancestors: the Sh’ma.
Imagine their shock when they are grabbed roughly by an Israeli police officer and dragged away off the grounds and into a precinct, all the while either in silence or with a scolding in Hebrew which they often don’t even speak or understand … Israeli hasbara at its best.Hana Levi Julian