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July 30, 2016 / 24 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Western Wall’

Netanyahu Ready to Go to Paris ‘Tomorrow’ for Direct 2-State Talks with Abbas

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday met with his French counterpart Manuel Valls in Jerusalem, and the two issued a joint statement dealing with the common goals of Israel and France as well as the solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict which would include two states for two peoples.

“Although we disagree as to the best way to reach peace, I appreciate your commitment to seek peace,” Netanyahu told Valls. “I know how important it is for you to bring an end to the terrible violence that has been taking place in our region for too long, and I wish to thank you and President Hollande for your commitment to peace.”

Referring to the French peace initiative which is expected to take place in Paris in a week and a half without direct involvement of the two sides in the conflict, Netanyahu insisted that the only way to reach peace is through direct negotiations with the PA Arabs. “In a direct negotiation the Palestinian leadership would be forced to face a clear choice, and the choice is simple — recognize the Jewish State or continue to educate their people that some day Israel will disappear,” Netanyahu said. “And I urge you not to allow the Palestinian leadership to evade this tough choice.”

Netanyahu told Valls that he would be ready to embrace a French initiative if it would include direct negotiations between himself and the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. “Every problematic issue will be on the negotiating table — mutual recognition, incitement, borders, refugee, as well as the settlements,” Netanyahu promised. “I’m ready to clear my schedule and fly to Paris tomorrow. Actually, I believe tomorrow we’re expanding the government, but the day after. And this is an open-ended offer. I’ll clear my agenda. And I hope you and the Palestinians will agree.”

Netanyahu also addressed the French vote last month at UNESCO, in favor of a resolution that referred to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall by their Arab names only and rejected any Jewish “claim” on the history of the holy sites. He congratulated Valls on his apology over the matter and his admission that it had been a mistake.

Prime Minister Valls promised to pass Netanyahu’s offer regarding the peace negotiations to President Hollande. “We are in favor of anything that would contribute to the peace,” Valls said. “We can discuss it, and we will make all the necessary clarifications. The discussion, I’m certain, will be most direct. But don’t doubt for one minute our will to do whatever is possible for peace, our commitment and my personal commitment in the fight against anti-Semitism, and the complete and unequivocal certainty that the Jewish roots of Jerusalem are completely indisputable.”

David Israel

Jordan Warns Israel to Block Jews from Visiting Temple Mount

Monday, April 25th, 2016

The government of Jordan warned Israel on Sunday there would be “grave repercussions” if Jews continue to ascend to the Temple Mount to visit Judaism’s holiest site over the Passover holiday.

Officials in Amman issued a statement warning of “grave repercussions of break-ins by groups of Israeli settlers and occupation forces into Al Aqsa Mosque/ Al Haram Al Sharif,” The Jordan Times reported.

“Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammad Momani said the violations by the Israeli occupation forces and settlers against worshipers at Al Aqsa Mosque / Al Haram Al Sharif constitute a breach of international laws and conventions, warning that such practices will lead to grave repercussions.”

The minister, who also serves as spokesperson for the Amman government, told the official Petra News Agency in a statement that Jordan “called on the occupation forces to immediately cease such practices and to prevent Israeli settlers and occupation forces from entering the yards of the holy mosque.”

Momani also “called on the occupation forces to allow Palestinian worshipers to enter the holy mosque and to allow them to perform their religious rituals… Occupation authorities have increased security in Jerusalem for the eight-day Passover festival, during which thousands of Jews come to the city to celebrate,” he added.

Any Israeli Jew — in fact, any Jew — is defined as a “settler” — by most Arab officials. The Israeli government is always referred to as the “occupation forces” and the site of the Temple Mount in its entirety, grounds and all, is referred to as the “Al Aqsa Mosque / Al Haram Al Sharif.”

Jordan seems somehow to forget that its own forces just barely occupied the ancient site for the blink of an eye, less than two decades (1948 to 1967).

The lives of the People of Israel have been intimately interwoven with its history for millenia — as proven by the archaeological artifacts constantly being discovered even in today’s dust.

None of this is new, and in fact it is getting really, really old.

Jordan has never really accepted these facts – nor has the rest of the international community – or for that matter, the reality that Israel reasserted its ownership over the territory because it won the defensive war forced upon it by its hostile Arab neighbors, including Jordan, in 1967.

That, despite Israeli officials repeatedly having warned Amman to stay out of the conflict in order to avoid having to fight a neighbor with whom relations were more or less neutral, if not positive.

The fact that the government of Jordan had used much of Judaism’s holiest site, Islam’s “third holiest site” as a latrine and garbage dump simply escapes international memory.

Had the so-called Jewish “invaders” back then and today been Da’esh (ISIS) fighters the holy site probably would have been obliterated and there would be nothing to discuss.

Instead it was the Jewish State who extended its hand in peace and conciliation. Israel offered the Jordanian Islamic Waqf control over the Temple Mount area despite its status as Judaism’s holiest site and kept complete control over the Western Wall for Israel.

And Jordan has proved itself to be among those of the Biblical Ishmael: as is the nature of Arab nations, the hand offered in peace was bitten and then swallowed up to the elbow. Today the Temple Mount has become a safe zone for Muslim clerics to freely incite against Israel and Jews.

Hana Levi Julian

Thousands of Kohanim Gather at Western Wall to Bless the People of Israel

Monday, April 25th, 2016

On the second morning on the intermediate days of Passover, tens of thousands of descendants of the Biblical Aharon, the High Priest, gathered at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem to bless the Nation of Israel.

Thousands more came to be blessed, and millions around the world viewed the events via the “Kotel Kam” that was set up to allow yearning Jewish worshipers at least virtual access to the site.

As in the days of old, so too in present times, the descendants of the Tribe of Levi gather during each of the Biblical holy days and festivals at the material remnant of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to bless the Jewish People.

The event is called ‘Birkat HaKohanim’ – the Blessing of the Priests – and it takes place several times a year.

A live feed of the events taking place throughout the day at the Western Wall may be viewed by clicking here.

This year more than 3,000 police and other security officers have been deployed in and around the area to ensure the safety of those who came to be blessed, and later on, to pray.

“Security forces and the Police and Border Guard officers around the city, including the Temple Mount (ed. note.: adjacent to the Western Wall) are there to manage with professionalism and sensitivity [the protection] that characterizes the uniqueness of the place and the need to serve the public in a fair and equal basis,” explained the police.

“We will continue to guard the status quo on the Temple Mount to benefit all and to act decisively against anyone who tries to disturb the public peace and safety.”

On the second day of Passover — in Israel, the first intermediate day — 12 Jews were ejected from visitation to the Temple Mount grounds after being accused of violating the rules at the site.

One Jewish boy was questioned by police on suspicion of having prayed within the Temple Mount compound, which is forbidden for Jews under the rules of the status quo guidelines agreed upon by Israel with the Jordanian Islamic Waqf after Israel won the 1967 Six Day War and restored the site to the rest of Jerusalem.

The Temple Mount — upon which both ancient Jewish Holy Temples were built — is the holiest site in Judaism. It is also the third holiest site in Islam. Several hundred years ago, Muslims build two mosques there to mark the sacred events in their tradition that took place on the site.

Hana Levi Julian

UNESCO: Jews Have No Connection to the Temple Mount

Saturday, April 16th, 2016

The executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Friday denied Israel’s claim to the Temple Mount and Western Wall.

Meeting in Paris, the organization ignored the Jewish connection to Jerusalem sites in a resolution that passed with 33 votes in favor, six against, and 17 abstained, and referenced only the Al-Aksa Mosque and the Al-Haram Al-Sharif (Temple Mount). The Western Wall area was referenced as the Al-Buraq Plaza. Last year UNESCO refused to reclassify the Wall as a Muslim site.

France, Spain, Sweden, Russia and Slovenia were among the non-Arab nations who supported the resolution. Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States objected.

The resolution accused Israel of planting “fake Jewish graves” in eastern Jerusalem. This claim is especially enraging, since the old Jewish cemetery on Mount Olives was desecrated by the Jordanians before 1967, with its tombstones being used to pave roads.

Israeli ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama released a statement in response saying, “Even if UNESCO passes dozens of resolutions, and decides to continue passing thousands more, Jerusalem will always remain as part of the capital of Israel and the Jewish people.” Shama added, “As you continue on this path of incitement, lies and terror you will be sending UNESCO down a path towards irrelevance.”

JNi.Media

First Chief Kotel Rabbi’s Letter Reveals Desperation on Eve of Jordanian Capture

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Adar 1948: Three letters recently uncovered from the besieged Old City of Jerusalem, written a month before the British left and two months before it fell into the hands of Jordan, betray the desperation of the residents and their leaders.

The letters include one of the last letters signed by the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, known in Hebrew as the Kotel, who insisted on returning to the besieged city and was killed two months after signing the letter.

The three letters were written in the month of Adar 1948, 68 years ago, by the besieged people of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, were recently discovered by an unidentified individual in Jerusalem.*

The letters reveal another piece of the harsh reality in the besieged city, the internal arguments between its civilians and the efforts to save the Jewish way of life during the inferno. One of the letters is signed by Rabbi Yitzchak Avigdor Orenstein, the Kotel’s first and legendary Chief Rabbi, two months before he perished during the shelling of the Old City.

In the letter – signed also by Rabbis Yisrael Zeev Mintzberg, community rabbi of the Ashkenazi Jewish Quarter, Shalom Azoulay, Dayan of the Westerners community, and Benzion Chazan, founder of the renowned “Porat Yosef” Yeshiva – the four send a distress call to Israel’s Chief Rabbi at the time, Yitzhak Herzog.

“Have mercy on the men, women, and children, and take drastic measures where needed elsewhere, so we won’t perish, God forbid.”

The four describe the difficult situation in the Old City after the shelling by the British soldiers.

“The lives of the Old city residents are in a grave danger. During the last few nights British troops shelled the Jewish Quarter, harming the sanctity of the synagogue,” they write, adding, “The night of Thursday and the night of Motzei Shabbat, were nothing short of a nightmare for us, we thought that we would all perish, God forbid, but thanks to the mercy of Hashem, no casualties occurred… the awful bombing was imposed on us by the British soldiers, without any reason or cause.

“This morning we woke up agreeing unanimously to leave the property behind and save our lives, escape the Old City and the life of nightmare. Nevertheless, after we partially recovered, we called the residents of the city for help in taking counsel and decided to appeal to his Excellency with the broadcast above “.

Rabbi Orenstein, who was appointed Chief Rabbi of the Kotel in 1930, insisted on returning to the Old City when the siege began, even though he was then visiting the new city.

Through special efforts done by Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and Rabbi Herzog, Rabbi Orenstein was able to enter the Old City. When asked why he was endangering himself, Rabbi Orenstein replied that “If someone is destined to sacrifice himself for the sake of the sanctity of ancient Jerusalem and its holy places, I am hereby committed to it more than anyone else.”

Rabbi Orenstein was killed along with his wife, Rebbetzin Mushka Liebe, during the shelling of Iyar 14th, about two months after signing the letter above. He was buried in a mass grave that he himself approved to set up within the Old City limits.

Letter written by The First Kotel Rabbi, Chief Rabbi Orenshtein two months before his death.

Letter written by The First Kotel Rabbi, Chief Rabbi Orenshtein two months before his death.

Alongside this letter, the collection holds another letter written the next day, by the rabbi of the Ashkenazi community, Rabbi Mintzberg, who also addressed Chief Rabbi Herzog. In his letter, Rabbi Mintzberg describes once more the difficult situation in the quarter. “I am to inform him that after the past Sunday of Parashat Shemini (about a week before writing this letter), a bitter day for the residents of the holy city, the soldiers were raging once more, shooting the residents. In yards and homes before midnight Friday night and yesterday Motza’ei Shabbat for several hours continuously, they fired shells and mortars and destroyed several homes.”

This time, the Rabbi of the Ashkenazi community is asking the chief rabbi to intervene, in order to bring peace between the president of the Old City’s Jewish community, Mordechai Weingarten, and the ‘Haganah’ military organization. The story behind this request involves the tension between Weingarten and the ‘Haganah’, following the latter’s takeover of the Jewish Agency’s food distribution to the Jews of the Old City, which had rested with Weingarten until that point.

The letter also mentions the need to reconcile further arguments about the discussion on the possible courses of action in the besieged city. Tensions reached a peak a month before writing the letter at hand, when commander of the Haganah’s Jerusalem unit, Avraham Halperin, was arrested in the Old City.

“Another thing I believe might affect… the heads of our government will give an order to members of the ‘Haganah’ to cooperate with Weingarten, since he is known to have relations with the government in favor of the Old City, and the cooperation will bring great benefit for the Protection of the Old City and alleviate the population’s suffering,” writes Rabbi Mintzberg to Chief Rabbi Herzog.

Another letter in the collection was sent four days later to the Religious Council in Jerusalem, by a representative group of 25 young members of the ‘Beitar’ organization, who had established a company of their own alongside the ‘Haganah’s.

According to the author of the letter, the company consists of “Young and international” olim (immigrants) from various countries including: Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, and Harbin (at that time under the control of the Soviet Union and today a part of China). In the letter, the group seeks assistance for the upcoming Passover. “We are forced to turn to you with a request of utmost importance. Passover is approaching and we are unable to satisfy all the national-religious Halachas of this holiday, such as matzo and the use of special kitchen utensils. ”

A month after the three letters were written, on May 13th, the British troops left the Old City. Three days later, the Arab counter-offensive commenced and the conquest of ‘Haganah’ positions in the city. Four days later came the Jordanian forces.

Two weeks after the departure of the British, on May 28th, the Old City was captured by the Jordanian forces.

(*Ed. Note: Kedem Auction House is handling the sale of the letters. A spokesperson told JewishPress.com the seller requested anonymity and added this is also part of its confidentiality policy, as it is with other auction houses, for varying reasons.)

Hana Levi Julian

American Reform Rabbis Warn of Disconnect with Israel

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

American Reform rabbis are warning of an imminent disconnect with Israel in their movement. The distance is growing over insulting comments by Israeli lawmakers and their outrage over the long-standing “Who is a Jew” issue that seems to again be returning for another round of debate between Israel and the Diaspora.

The Reform Movement is the largest stream of the faith in the United States, although it has marginal numbers in Israel. It has provided key support for the Jewish State both politically and financially in the U.S. and whenever Israel is threatened, the movement is among the first to respond.

The angst between American Reform Jewry and Israel was reflected during a meeting last week between the movement’s leaders and Israeli officials.

“How do you ask Jews around the world to support Israel politically, economically, socially … and at the same time you have these ministers who say to our people ‘you’re not really Jewish’ or ‘you don’t have a place here in Israel?’

“It’s a real problem for us,” said Rabbi Steven Fox, the chief executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. The 2,000-member CCAR held its septennial convention in Israel last week.

Israel faces a thorny dilemma, being a Jewish State where some key laws are based on those in Torah, such as the definition (for marital purposes) of “who is a Jew” and what constitutes a legitimate Jewish marriage and divorce.

The state has tried to make diplomatic compromises in that it has stretched the identification of a Jew to embrace all those who met “Hitler’s definition” – that is, anyone who can prove the Judaism of a single grandparent on either side.

But the American Reform movement today includes temples with mixed gender seating, female rabbis and members who violate the Sabbath by driving to services. Many no longer recognize the kosher laws as relevant either, relegating that practice to antiquity as an ancient law used to protect public health. Some members have even taken on the practice of installing a Christmas tree in the home around the winter holidays, so their children won’t feel “different.” Many are intermarried.

Last month after three years of delicate negotiations, the state risked a crisis with the Orthodox population and designated a special mixed-gender prayer section at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. In that section, women are permitted to wear prayer shawls and yarmulkas as do Jewish men.

The upheaval that followed rocked the Jewish world in Israel and the Orthodox world around the planet. Israel’s chief rabbis were furious and the rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, threatened to resign.

The American Reform movement was overjoyed, as was the activist Women of the Wall organization.

But now American Reform rabbis are angry because an Israeli minister called the movement a “waning world.” Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, himself a secular Jew, pointed out that intermarriage and assimilation will eventually lead to the disappearance of the Jews who engage in those practices. Levin commented that the mixed-gender prayer site at the Western Wall would likely become unnecessary within two or three generations.

A hareidi-religious lawmaker was more abrupt and far less polite, comparing the Reform movement to the “mentally ill.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is not observant, was caught between having to try to force his lawmakers to behave with some dignity and respect, and having to pacify the deeply insulted visiting Reform rabbis.

Netanyahu had already rejected “disparaging and divisive remarks” about Reform Jews. He called the movement “part and parcel of the Jewish people” and reminded Israelis that a Jew is a Jew, regardless of which synagogue he attends. He also met with the visiting Reform rabbis, albeit without a public notice.

Hana Levi Julian

Jordan Adds to Western Wall Mixed-Gender Prayer Controversy

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

Jordan is demanding that Israel “return jurisdiction” over part of the Western Wall to the Islamic Waqf controlled by Amman.

The demand followed the decision by the Israeli government last week to set aside the southernmost section of the Wall, known as Robinson’s Arch, as a place for mixed-gender prayer. Jordan refers to the same place as the “Umayyad Palaces.”

Jordan contends that the decision violates the jurisdiction of the Waqf Islamic Authority over Jerusalem’s holy places, an agreement made between the two countries in 1967.

On Saturday, Jordanian Minister of Communications and Media Affairs Muhammad Momani “urged Israel not to meddle with the Umayyad Palaces area and to ensure its return under the jurisdiction of the Jordanian Jerusalem Waqf Department, which is the entity responsible for administering and safeguarding the site,” the Jordan news agency Petra reported in the Jordan Times.

“Israeli occupation forces have recently settled internal differences among followers of different Jewish sects at the expense of the area of the Umayyad Palaces,” Petra said.

“Israeli occupation forces had decided to expand a platform to allow more Jewish worshippers into the area. The violation against the Umayyad Palaces is the latest in a long series of assaults and violations against the site. Occupation forces have carried out several excavation works there, destroying Arab and Islamic heritage,” Petra added on behalf of Jordan’s government.

Israel’s government approved plans last week to expand the Western Wall plaza in order to accommodate the increasing demands for non-Orthodox prayer at the site. A small wooden platform at Robinson’s Arch has already been set up for mixed-gender prayer.

Jordan’s lamentation over Israeli “occupation” is a bit spurious, given the Hashemite tenure itself as custodian over parts of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria lasted only from 1948 to 1967 – a total of 31 years.

Jerusalem has long since been reunited and whole for a period much longer than that: June 2017 will mark half a century since the restoration of the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and elsewhere in Jerusalem and the Land to the Jewish State of Israel.

However, to be fair, the dismay of the Hashemite Kingdom over the compromise over non-Orthodox prayer allowed by the government is also reflected among some Muslims in Israel and ironically is shared with some observant Jews locally and globally as well.

Mixed-gender prayer has never been allowed at the Western Wall – in fact, historically it was not allowed in either Holy Temple. In Torah law, women are not counted among a minyan (quorum) of men.

Not that this grants validity to the Jordanian claim of authority and hopes to win Waqf control of the site, which is more of a simple attempt at another political territory grab.

The Umayyad Palaces were two buildings which archaeologists say were built by the Umayyads who ruled for a period of 100 years in the late seventh century. They were destroyed in an earthquake and lay buried until they were unearthed by Israeli archaeologists in a 1970s excavation, creating a public history park to educate all.

The Western Wall is part of Judaism’s most sacred site on the planet, the Temple Mount, located alongside. The site is also the third holiest in Islam. The Wall is part of the outer retaining wall of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, its sole material remnant that has survived throughout the centuries. In Islam, it is believed that the prophet Mohammed rose up to Heaven on his mighty steed el-Buraq from a site near the Western Wall.

In Judaism, it is believed that somewhere on the grounds of the Temple Mount lies the site of the “Holy of Holies” of the two Holy Temples of Jerusalem – the inner sanctum where the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) communed with G-d Himself during sacrifices and services. No one other than the Kohen Gadol was ever allowed to enter this place, and to this day countless rabbis forbid Jews to tread upon the Temple Mount grounds for fear of erroneously entering this area.

The Israeli government does not allow Jews to pray within the Temple Mount in accordance with a status quo agreement with the Jordanian Waqf. Within the Temple Mount grounds are built the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, where Muslims are allowed to pray.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jordan-adds-to-western-wall-mixed-gender-prayer-controversy/2016/02/07/

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