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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Western Wall’

Western Wall Rabbi: Respect the Muslims, Don’t Come to Pray

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Haredi men and women and the Women of the Wall movement made their monthly commotion at the Western Wall Wednesday morning,  ignoring pleas from the Western Wall rabbi to show “sensitivity” to Muslims and not to pray at the holy site.

The Women of the Wall also rejected a police request not to come with Tefillin, which are not used by women in traditional Judaism. However, police have successfully barred Jews from ascending the Temple Mount the entire week.

Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz published a letter Tuesday, emphasizing “sensitivity and security at the conclusion of the month of Ramadan”, the Muslim holy month that concludes this week. Tens of thousands of Muslims crowd the Temple Mount for Muslim prayers in Ramadan, especially at the beginning and the end of the month.

Rabbi Rabinowitz has failed in the past to keep the Women of the Wall (WoW) away from the Kotel,  but his using “sensitivity to Muslims” as an excuse is exactly the kind of Ghetto mentality that has allowed Arabs to squeeze out political and religious concessions from Jews for decades.

The unprecedented closure of the Temple Mount to Jews for an entire week was a victory for the Waqf, the Muslim authority that runs the holy site to which Israel has surrendered de facto sovereignty. Harassment, insults and riots by Palestinian Authority Muslims have occasionally forced Jews to leave the Temple Mount, but they have become routine in recent weeks.

Police have allowed the violence to win the day, and Rabbi Rabinowitz’s “sensitivity” to Muslims broadcasts a strong signal that Jews are willing to give up their rights if it means causing a commotion.

Ironically, it is the Women of the Wall and Haredim who are not surrendering. Approximately 250 women showed up at the Western Wall Wednesday morning, which is the first fay of the Hebrew month of Elul and the first day of daily shofar blowing until the day before Rosh HaShanah, except for Shabbat.

An unusually large number of Haredim also showed up and filled up the women’s section, preventing the Women of the Wall from praying there.

Police also stopped a woman from breaking the rules of the Western Wall by bringing a Sefer Torah into the prayer area. The only Torah scrolls that are allowed to be used are those that already are in place, and, of course, Rabbi Rabinowitz does not allow women to use one of the Western Wall scrolls.

However, he had no problem breaking the rules and allowing Haredim to use a megaphone so they could pray louder and blow their whistles louder in order to aggravate the women.

Between the women’s singing and the whistles and shouts of the Haredim, the shofar sounded, heralding the People of Israel to repent for their sins towards the High Holy Days.

The Muslims, instead of scratching their heads at the absurdity of politics disguised by a costume of prayer  at the Western Wall, are probably celebrating the end of Ramadan as the first blow against true Jewish prayer at the Western Wall.

Archaeologists Find 2,000-Year-Old Evidence of Siege in Jerusalem

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Archaeological excavations near the Western Wall have unearthed three complete cooking pots and a small ceramic oil lamp that are the first pieces of evidence of the Jewish famine during the revolt during the siege of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.

The Israel Antiquities Authority is digging up history in excavations of the drainage channel that runs from the Shiloah Pool in the City of David to Robinson’s Arch, at the southern end of the Western Wall.

“This is the first time we are able to connect archaeological finds with the famine that occurred during the siege of Jerusalem at the time of the Great Revolt,” said excavation director Eli Shukrun.

The complete cooking pots and ceramic oil lamp, discovered inside a small cistern in a drainage channel, indicate that the people went down into the cistern where they secretly ate the food that was contained in the pots, without anyone seeing them, and this is consistent with the account provided by Josephus,” he explained.

In his book “The Jewish War,” Josephus describes the Roman siege of Jerusalem and in its wake the dire hunger that prevailed in the blockaded city.

In his dramatic description of the famine in Jerusalem he tells about the Jewish rebels who sought food in the homes of their fellow Jews in the city. Josephus said that the Jews concealed the food they possessed for fear it would be stolen by the rebels, and they ate in hidden places in their homes.

“As the famine grew worse, the frenzy of the partisans increased with it…. Nowhere was there corn to be seen, men broke into the houses and ransacked them. If they found some, they maltreated the occupants for saying there was none; if they did not, they suspected them of having hidden it more carefully and tortured them,” Josephus wrote.

“Many secretly exchanged their possessions for one measure of corn-wheat if they happened to be rich, barley if they were poor. They shut themselves up in the darkest corners of the their houses, where some through extreme hunger ate their grain as it was, others made bread, necessity and fear being their only guides. Nowhere was a table laid…”

The artifacts will be on display in a study conference on the City of David next Thursday.

Archbishop of Canterbury to Visit Western Wall and Al Aqsa Mosque

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is scheduled to arrive in Israel Wednesday as part of a five-day trip to the Middle East.

The archbishop is making sure to honor all three major religions, with visits planned to the Western Wall, the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Welby, whose father’s German-Jewish family fled to the UK to escape anti-Semitism in the late 19th century, will also visit Yad VaShem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial.

He also will attend the opening of an Arab Episcopal medical center in Ramallah, according to the London Guardian.

Updated: Kotel Security Guard Shot and Killed a Homeless Jewish Man

Friday, June 21st, 2013

A security guard shot and killed a Jewish man(46) at the Western Wall Friday morning. A team of Magen David Adom tried in vain to revive the victim. The man was shot as he was coming out of the lavatories.

The victim has been identified as Doron Ben-Shlush, a homeless man who most recently was living in the Chabad house near the Kotel.

The guard said that he thought he heard the man shouting Allahu Akbar and believed he saw him pulling something out of his pocket. Islamic terrorists generally yell ‘Allahu Akbar’ before they commit a terror attack.

Eyewitnesses told Wallah that they heard at least 10 shots being fired.

Reshet Bet reports that police are now investigating the security guard at the scene, and he has been placed under arrest for 5 days.

Maariv reports that the civilian guard is from Israel’s north, and this was only his second shift working as a guard at the Kotel.

Other Kotel guards said the victim was a regular visitor to the Kotel, but that he always acted in an unusually nervous manner, including giving out the occasional yell or scream.

Kugel Aside: an Important Observation

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

By Faigie Heiman I’m not a blogger, a jogger nor do I twitter, or book my face. The social media is not my domain, but when I’m annoyed, or gratified with editorials or articles that appear in newspapers or magazines, I write a letter to the editor.

In May, the weekend Magazine section of the Jerusalem Post featured an article by Seth Frantzman titled: Forgotten History, an informative piece relating to the history of the Western Wall whereby Frantzman quotes Knesset Member Dov Lipman in a discussion in the Knesset.

“It is very interesting relating to the Kotel that in our history we see old photos of women and men praying together. It isn’t an orthodox synagogue; it’s a place we all value and does not have the Halacha of a synagogue.”

Isi Liebler, a popular blogger, wrote an article about Religious Tolerance and Mutual Respect and he too brought up the same point, that men and women can be viewed at the Kotel together, without a divider, in all the early twentieth century pictures.

A popular Israeli radio commentator spoke about the same phenomenon, and that was enough to trigger my letter of response to Frantzman’s article. Forgotten History, as featured in the Jerusalem Post, was a good reminder of the past but regrettably, some historical facts were omitted. Those like MK Lipman who wonder why men and women are pictured together without a mechitza, have forgotten history. They have forgotten when, and where the divider was born, and why it does not appear in those old photos.

 The Sanctuary was built with an ezrat nashim, a separate area for women. Sacrifices were offered at the Sanctuary and after the destruction, animal sacrifice was replaced with prayer time, held in small or large quarters, with areas for women to emulate Temple custom. The Western Wall, the single remaining remnant of the Temple was not in our hands, not under Jewish sovereignty. Throughout the ages foreign rulers applied regulations as to what they permitted along the narrow alley below the Wall. Dividers were forbidden, and most often, prayer too.

It is wise to remember that the Kotel is now in our hands. It is neither an amphitheater nor a circus, nor an ordinary street, and age-old Jewish customs should be respected. The area begs to be a peaceful place of prayer, with traditions valued as in days of yore.

When I sent the above observation to Isi Liebler he answered immediately.

Thanks. That may be so. Nevertheless, for hundreds of years the Kotel served as a shrine for private prayer and meditation rather than exclusively as a Bet Knesset.

Do the Lieblers and Lipmans prefer to have the Kotel returned to pre-67 condition? Is that the solution, Moslem sovereignty over the narrow street at the Wall so that the area can operate as a place for a dozen Jews, men and women, to mingle and meditate? Should we turn the clock back to foreign rules and regulations?

The Six Day War brought about the most stunning miraculous victory for Israel, and changed political and spiritual facts on the ground. It reunited Jerusalem and opened the area at the Kotel to hundreds of thousands of people to pray, visit, and meditate daily.  After over two thousand years of foreign rule, the Temple Mount and the Kotel were returned to our hands. A mechitza, a divider was necessary to implement traditional prayer service and was set up by the Ministry of Religious Affairs immediately after the area was opened to the public in 1967. That mechitza is respected by the large majority of men and women in Israel and around the world.

Yerushalmi Kugel

Yerushalmi Kugel

I remember the first Shabbat kiddush I attended after the Six Day War whereby Yerushalmi noodle kugel was served. It was dished out on small plates, a thin slice of pickle alongside the kugel. As soon as the plates of kugel were visible, everyone in the overcrowded room grabbed a plate. My husband was concerned that I wouldn’t `be quick enough, that I wouldn’t know how to grab a plate. He pushed his way over to check if I had a piece of kugel. “No” I answered. “I didn’t get kugel, but it’s okay, even if the service is not my style, it’s okay, I can eat kugel at home.”

The traditional style at the Kotel is one of a mechitza for prayer in adherence to orthodox Jewish custom. If individuals or groups find it tasteless they can pray or eat at home, or wherever their palate is sated. Not everyone must, or can, enjoy their portion of kugel in an authentic Yerushalmi setting.

With all due respect to Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky, the Kotel does not belong to everyone. The Kotel is a historic religious Jewish site, and it should be dealt with according to tradition.   Conventional prayer service as practiced in orthodox houses of prayer cannot satisfy all the people, all the time. Sufficient if it satisfies most people most of the time. If fifty Jews for Jesus want to hold a Sunday morning prayer service at the Wall, must that also be tolerated?

Some will argue, “but they too are Jews, they also need to be accommodated!”

Yes, they may be Jews, but there are red lines, there are traditional rules and the Rabbi of the Kotel draws the red lines, he is in charge, and his rulings should be upheld.
For the uninformed, religious prayer custom at the Kotel did not change after 1967. Former tradition was reinstated. The women who are disturbing the peace today are doing so first with tallit and tefillin, to be followed by removal of the divider. The egalitarian service they desire, and the means to achieving it, is a disservice to the entire House of Israel, and their behavior at the Kotel can, G-d forbid, bring the House down.

 Faigie Heiman is an accomplished short-story and essay writer and the author of a popular memoir titled Girl For Sale. Born and raised in Brooklyn she made Aliya and lives in Jerusalem since 1960.

Is Someone Framing Women of Wall with Death Threat to Rabbis?

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

The Chief Rabbis of Israel filed a complaint with the police Monday after receiving letters threatening them with death if they try to stop the Women of the Wall (WoW) movement from praying in the custom of men, complete with a minyan, tallis and tefillin.

WoW officials immediately condemned the death threats and denied any connection with them.

“All those involved and educated on the subject know that there is no connection between the content and style of these letters and the spirit of nonviolence, tolerance and acceptance which drives Women of the Wall,” WoW stated. Addressing the rabbis who were threatened, they added that they “wish them strength and courage during this trying time.”

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and his Sephardi counterpart Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar received letters with a picture of a handgun. The letter stated, “This is your final warning. If the Women of the Wall are not allowed to daven in line with their custom, we will use all means at our disposal and will end up with one hundred Haredi bodies. Your end is near.”

The Chief Rabbinate stated that the threat is a “red line that has not yet been crossed in the past.”

For all those who have been hibernating the past several months, the Women of the Wall, cheered on by American media and the Reform Movement, have successfully won their campaign to be able to pray at the Western Wall, in the back of the women’s section, even if not in accordance with Jewish tradition that is maintained by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz. He said he also received a death threat in a letter to his home.

The women will be back in full force at the beginning of the new Hebrew month of Tammuz, which starts Saturday and Sunday, having won permission from the Supreme Court last month to pray in a minyan with tallis and tefillin at the Kotel.

More than 1,000 Haredim, most of them high schoolers, prayed in protest, but the scene was marred by several Haredi men who threw bottles and rocks at the Women of the Wall.

So who sent the death threats?

If a member of WoW sent the letters, she definitely is not a core member of the group.

The writer could have simply been someone who hates Haredim and decided to hitch a ride on the WoW campaign to express outrage at Haredi rabbis, who on the one hand safeguard Jewish law and on the other hand often use religion coercion that distances Jews instead of bringing them closer to tradition.

And there is the worst possibility, if not the most probable.

Someone out there cannot accept the fact that, right or wrong, the women have won the battle. What better way to disgrace WoW by insinuating they are threatening Haredi rabbis to get their way?

This Shabbat, Jews from all over the world will read the Torah portion of Korach, of the Tribe of Levi. He insisted that all of the People of Israel are holy and that Moses was not the only one fit to lead the people.

He met his end when his followers were swallowed up by an opening in the earth, burying them alive.

Opponents to the Women of the Wall will have a field day comparing them with Korach.

There may be something to that comparison, but the same scoffers – and I am far, far from being a supporter of WoW – might recall that a recent Torah reading describes how the “elders” who were close to Moses and complained to him that two of the elders were prophesying.

“And the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to him [Moses], and took part of the spirit that was upon him and put it upon the seventy men of the elders, and it was, when the spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, but did not continue.

“And two men remained in the camp – one was called Eldad and the other was called Medad – and the spirit rested upon them; and they belonged to those who had been recorded, but they had not gone out to the Tent [of Assembly], and they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, and said, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp,’ and Joshua son of Nun, servant of Moses from his youth, answered and said, ‘My lord Moses, restrain them.’ And Moses said to him, “Are you jealous on my account? Would that all the people of the Lord might be prophets, that the Lord would put His spirit upon them!” (Num. 11:25-28)

Jordan Moves to Scrap Peace Treaty over Arrest of Jerusalem Mufti

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

The arrest of the Jerusalem Mufti on Tuesday for throwing chairs at Jews on the Temple Mount prompted the Jordanian parliament on Wednesday to demand that King Abdullah expel the Israeli envoy. The legislators also called to start a draft for a law to scrap the peace treaty with Israel.

Police arrested an Arab from entering the Temple Mount, and an enraged Grand Mufti and other Arabs began throwing plastic chairs at five Jews who entered the Temple Mount under police escort. Arab media said they prostrated themselves, an act of prayer that the Waqf prohibits, except for Muslims.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The Washington Post the group did not carry out any act of prayer. As usual, Palestinian Authority media exaggerated the entire scene. Arab media always report that Jews “stormed” the Temple Mount. The Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported that 50, and not five, Jews prostrated themselves.

Israeli police stepped in to end the clash before it could get out of hand and arrested the Mufti, a rare action.

It did not take much time for Jordan to hear of the altercation, and the country’s parliament unanimously agreed that the kingdom should expel the Israeli ambassador and recall its own ambassador from Tel Aviv. The parliament added its own imagination to the facts and claimed that Israel is trying to build a bridge between the Al Aqsa mosque and Jerusalem “settlements.” The parliament also called for drafting legislation to scrap the peace treaty with Israel.

Several hours later, Israel released the Mufti, which probably was not related to the Jordanian parliament’s move. The government knows full well that the Arab world will not sit passive with the Jerusalem Mufti being taken from his home for interrogation.

The U.S. State Department was asked by reporters to comment on the fuss, and assistant spokesman Patrick Ventrell told them, “We urge all sides to respect the status quo of this holy site and to exercise restraint and refrain from provocative actions.

As usual, the State Dept. does not what it is talking about.

Status quo? From when? From 1967?

The Israeli government passed the Protection of Holy Places Law on June 27, 1967.

It states:

“The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.”

The wise State Dept. does not also know much about the Mufti, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein.

In 2006, he stated that suicide bombings of Israelis were “legitimate, of course, as long as it plays a role in the resistance.”

On the other hand, one could say he simply was maintaining the status quo, which the Oslo Accords and the peace treaty with Jordan changed.

Jordan controlled the Temple Mount until the Six-Day War in 1967. Before then, Amman did not let Jews visit holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It also prohibited Christians from most churches and holy sites in the Old City, Judea and Samaria, except for few and far between visiting foreign dignitaries.

After Jerusalem was restored to Israel in 1967, the Israeli government didn’t want to have much to do with the Temple Mount for many reasons, not the least of which was the concern of a religious war with Muslims as well as the complicated and complex issue in Jewish law of whether it is even permitted for a Jew to ascend to the site of the destroyed First and Second Temples.

The government left authority for the Temple Mount site in the hands of the Muslim Waqf site, with the stipulation that Israeli police could patrol the site and enter the mosque area, if necessary.

The “status quo” ended in 1969, when an Australian evangelical Christian tried to burn down the mosque to hasten the Second Coming, if not World War III.

Muslims began to renovate buildings on the Temple Mount and tried to minimize the presence of Israel soldiers. A plot by a Jewish underground movement to blow up he Al Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock to awaken Jews to a spiritual revival, or alternatively, bring on World War III.

Stars of ‘Scandal’ and ‘Once Upon A Time’ at Kotel on Shabbat

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Stars from the hit American TV shows “Scandal” and “Once Upon a Time” visited the Western Wall Friday night during and found themselves immediately recognized by religious Jewish prayer-goers.

”People approached us at the Western Wall, saying they watch our shows,” said Katie Lowes, who stars in the new American political thriller television series “Scandal,” created by Grey’s Anatomy’s Shonda Rhimes.

”It has been an amazing experience, visiting across Israel. But the visit to the Western Wall and the Shabbat dinner that followed, was truly a highlight,” she added. ”It was beautiful to hear the people singing and praying and to be part of a Shabbat dinner with a family in Jerusalem.”

The Hollywood celebrities spent a week touring Israel in a trip which was led by America’s Voices in Israel (AVI) director Irwin Katsof and sponsored by El Al Israel Airlines and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The group spent time in the Golan Heights, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Masada, Dead Sea and Jerusalem from April 29-May 5.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/stars-of-scandal-and-once-upon-a-time-at-kotel-on-shabbat/2013/05/05/

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