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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘WOW’

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.

Protesters: Police in Cahoots with Arabs over Jewish Access to Mount

Monday, August 5th, 2013

The Joint Committee of Temple Mount Organizations has announced a protest vigil this Wednesday, August 7, at 7:30 AM, by the Mugrabi Bridge connecting the Western Wall plaza with the Mughrabi Gate of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

According to the organizers, which include journalist Arnon Segal and Women in Green founders Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katsover, the vigil will be held in response to an announcement last Tuesday by the Police official in charge of the holy sites, Commander Avi Bitton, that the Temple Mount would remain open only to Muslims and closed to Jews and to tourists at least until after the Muslim holiday of Idl-Fitter, next Sunday, the fifth of Elul or August 11.

This is breaking the rules, cry out the organizers, members of organizations promoting Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, warning that Jerusalem Police has already violated the long held status quo by shutting off the Temple Site to non-Muslims throughout the month of Ramadan.

This past month, the vigil organizers complain that on those few days when Jews were allowed to go up to the Mount, they suffered constant abuse by the Muslims and by the police.

Two weeks ago, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin was chased away from the Temple Mount by a crowd of Muslims. According to the vigil organizers, police did not intervene to prevent the “screaming and harassment and threats by the Muslims against Elkin and his family.”

But the biggest complaint of the organizers has to do with the fact that the Arabs have, apparently, discovered the surefire method of keeping the Jews off the Mount – all they have to do is threaten violence, and the police immediately folds, and rather than responding to the bullies by imposing law and order—a fairly basic expectation of our law enforcement agencies—they join forces with them to block Jewish access.

It’s been ten years, the protesters say, since the Temple mount was re-opened to Jewish visitors—not for prayer, mind you, God forbid—and now they fear the permanent sealing off of the holiest Jewish site bar none appears closer than ever.

“It seems the police is throwing a trial balloon,” reads the organizers’ email. “They try to see if the Temple Mount is important to a large Jewish population, or only to some ‘crazies.’ It is obvious that if this passes quietly, it will get worse for the Jews.”

And so the Joint Committee of the Temple Mount Organizations have decided to hold a mass protest vigil to remind the police, the politicians, and—most important—ourselves, that the holiest place for the Jewish People is not the Kotel, with all due respect, but the Temple Mount.

As one organizer put it, according to Matar, celebrating Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel and not on the Temple Mount is tantamount to celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, in the Knesset parking lot, while the building itself would be chock full of Arabs.

They invite “all to whom a Jewish presence at the Jews’ most holy site in the world is important, to wake up early Wednesday morning and come.”

Wouldn’t it be interesting if, this coming Rosh Chodesh Elus, Wednesday morning, all the Jews will find their way up to the Temple Mount, leaving down below only the Women of the Kotel?

Don’t forget to dip in the Mikvah first, in case they actually let everybody up.

Haredi MK Stars in ‘Haredi Draft’ Show in Knesset

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

The Knesset outdid itself Monday as a stage for comic-tragedy, with Haredi Knesset Members Porush sealing the show and chaining himself to the podium microphone before the legislature passed on first reading the “equal military burden” bill.

His handcuff shtick illustrated what he said will happen if Haredi youth are arrested for refusing to serve the country in the military or national service. “Even if they put handcuffs on them, they will continue to learn Torah,” he proclaimed.

MK Porush also sounded like a Reform Jew on Monday, ruling against nearly 2,000 years of Jewish tradition. Monday was Tu B’Av, the 15th of the month of Av that shares with Yom Kippur the distinction of being the two most joyous days in the year, according to the Talmud.

But what is the Talmud when your own interests are being hurt? MK Porush declared from the Knesset podium, “The 15th day of Av…has become a day of mourning.”

Other Haredi MKs were not to be outdone in announcing how God works.

Some people are so stupid that they think that the unrest in the Golan Heights is because of the Syrian civil war and not due to Divine Retribution for the draft bill, but Haredi MK Moshe Gafni knows better.

With deep insight into the mysterious workings of God, the distinguished Knesset Member also declared that all of Israel’s economic problems are because of the draft bill.

Torah sages wrote centuries ago that it was the People of Israel’s own sins that brought down the First and Second Temples.

But even God did not reverse the order. The Temples were not destroyed before Israel’s own rebellion against God and fellow Jews. They were destroyed afterwards.

MK Gafni may have been studying Torah – when he is not delivering his own accounts of God’s behavior – the past few years, but the spillover into the Golan from the chaos in Syria started long before the “equal military burden” bill was presented to the Knesset.

The economy has been in trouble for a couple of years, but why let that facts get in a way of the opinion of a Haredi MK whose golden ox is being gored.

MK Gafni, in a display of unbrotherly love, called the draft bill’s leading sponsor Finance Minister Yair Lapid “a cynical man who does not care about the People of Israel.”

Haredi MK Yaakov Litzman summed up the illogical reasoning of his colleagues by asking, “Are all of the solutions to the problems in the country dependent on hatred of Haredim?”

How does he know Lapid hates Haredim? It is simple. Lapid wants them to serve in the army. If that isn’t proof, what is?

Before the grand show in the Knesset, the Haredi Knesset members and supporters did a warm-up  and gathered in the corridors to say Selichot prayers of repentance and blow the shofar, as is the custom on the days of asking forgiveness for sins.

Monday was probably the first time in modern Israel that Jews mourned in public on one of two most joyous days of the year. Their theatrics put the Women of the Wall to shame, and it is not coincidental that both grows use twisted reasoning to further their own political agenda in the name of all of Israel.

Stick around. The show will get better – or worse, depending on your mood. Monday’s production was after the first reading of the bill.

The Haredi MKs are going to have to work hard to come up with another show at the next readings and final passage, but trust them. They will come up with another good show, even if it means having to learn a little less Torah.

Freedom of Religion on Temple Mount – Except for Jews (Video)

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Police at the Temple Mount last week escorted a group of Jews to enter a gate to ascend to the holy site but then closed it to them when an Arab mob of only 50 Muslims gathered and threatened them with hate slogans.

The police promised the Jews they could enter in another hour, but when the time came, the police escorted them away from the site and allowed only Muslims to enter.

The success by the Arabs to force the police to keep Jews off the Temple Mount is another Arab victory in what has become an increasingly evident battle by Muslims to keep Jews from having any claim to the holy site and by Jews to prove the opposite.

The police usually take the easiest way out when it comes to sensitive political wars in the name of religion, or perhaps this one is a religious war in the name of politics.

Security forces for years have honored Haredi demands and kept the Women of the Wall movement from praying with prayer shawls and tefillin at the Western Wall – until Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky stepped into the fray and supported the women’s efforts.

The police suddenly changed sides and instead of arresting the women, they protected them and arrested Haredim who tried to interfere with the women’s prayer.

When it comes to Arabs and Jews on the Temple Mount, it is clear which side the police take.

If possession is nine-tenths of the law, the Muslims have won hands down.

Complicating the Jewish struggle to overcome Palestinian Authority claims that the Jewish Holy Temples never even existed is the prohibition of the Chief Rabbinate against Jews ascending the Temple Mount, because of issues of Jewish law concerning ritual purity.

An increasing number of Zionist rabbis permit entering certain areas of the Temple Mount, and the Temple Mount Institute actively promotes Jewish visits.

The government always has preferred to “keep the peace,” but the more the Arab world insists that the Temple Mount has not Jewish history, the more many Jews say that if they do not stake out a claim by their presence, the de facto absence of Jews will turn the Temple Mount into a  permanent “Muslim only” site.

Now what would happen if, instead of religious Jews trying to ascend the mount, the Women of the Wall would concentrate their activities there instead of testing the Haredim at the Western Wall?

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5,000 Frum Girls Keep Women of the Wall Out

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Some 150 Women of the Wall arrived at the Western Wall plaza Monday morning, but were not allowed to pray in the women’s section, despite the fact that they had been assigned an area there.

Police said that there was no room for the Women of the Wall because some five thousand seminar girls had come there earlier. Hundreds of Haredim also prevented the WOW from entering the Western Wall area.

In the end, police allowed the women to pray at the entrance to the plaza and fenced an enclosure around them there.

One seminar girl was arrested on a charge of rioting.

The WOW organization reported that police surrendered to Haredi bullying. They argued that had they come to the Kotel without police escort they would occupy a spot near the Wall as they had done each month for half a century.

According to Kikar Hashabbat, hundreds of police were deployed Monday morning at the Western Wall for the monthly provocation by Women of the Wall. But after the plaza had become packed with thousands of seminar girls, police decided the only safe move was to keep the Women of the Wall away. Dozen of plainclothes detectives were dispersed around the Kotel Plaza, monitoring and reporting.

The decision to keep the heavily outnumbered WOW away probably prevented a major, possibly violent clash.

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Photo credit: Kikar HaShabbat

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Photo credit: Kikar HaShabbat

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Photo credit: Kikar HaShabbat

The following is part of JTA’s take on this morning’s events at the Kotel:

“It sucks,” Women of the Wall’s chairwoman, Anat Hoffman, told JTA during the service. “It was a surprise.”

A police spokeswoman told JTA that the barricade was placed far from the wall for the women’s “personal safety.”

Thousands of haredi Orthodox girls and women arrived ahead of the Women of the Wall, packing the women’s section of the Western Wall plaza, praying silently and blocking Women of the Wall from entering.

A crowd of mostly male haredi Orthodox protesters surrounded the barricade, with some protesters singing and yelling epithets such as “Get out, Nazis!” Later in the service, protesters threw eggs and a bottle of water at the women, striking a male supporter of the group in the head.

Midway through the service, the women crowded close to the barricade, face to face with the protesters. The women held their prayer books in the air and sang loudly, trying to outmatch the chants from the other side of the police line.

Women of the Kotel Rev Up the Provocation with a Sefer Torah

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

It’s starting again, like it does every month, for the Women of the Kotel – can you feel the excitement? “Rosh Hodesh Av at the Kotel 2013″ is coming, says their email invitation (mind you, it’s not Av, 5773—too complicated), July 8, at 7:00 AM.

The month of Av, when two temples were burned down to the ground – how very appropriate.

If you would like to attend Rosh Hodesh Av Prayers at the Kotel with Women of the Wall and receive security updates, please fill out the form below and we will be in touch.

If you wish to sign up for the free minibus to the Kotel from Gan Hapa’amon, use the check box below.

We want to do our utmost to ensure everyone a safe and meaningful prayer at the Kotel.

Well, not everyone, of course, because, judging by last months complaints from non-WOW Jerusalemites, public bus service to the Kotel that goes through Haredi neighborhoods will be suspended until mid-day. It won’t be official, it would just be a quiet arrangement between cops and the bus company—allegedly.

Now the scoop, which should send a thrill through the delicate spines of all the WOW ladies: “Women of the Wall gear up for the next struggle: Reading Torah at the Kotel.

It’s Revolutionary techniques 101: every time you reach a goal – start looking for the next one. A revolution that runs out of provocative goals to achieve might as well fold up the barricades and go home.

Also, a revolution that stops in its tracks won’t be doing so good on the fund raising front. Ya gotta remember the bottom line.

So, after receiving permission from two lower courts to pray while clad in talitot and teffilin by the Kotel, men and women together, and after it became clear that neither the police nor the AG had the stomach for an appeal to the high court, you’d think the WOW would rejoice and give thanks to their Father or Mother in Heaven and sing out a great Rosh Chodesh Hallelujah.

No such luck. Now they need to unfold a Torah scroll out there, in the open air by the Kotel, and endow everyone in the plaza with their lovely voices.

Thank God, the Rosh Chodesh reading is relatively short. The predictable Haredi screaming will eventually die down, the WOW will once again appear victorious compared to those uncouth haters. So, you understand why it is absolutely essential that, after all these many months of not reading the Torah in the open, now it must be done.

They wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and are urging their supporters to send a copy to him:

Shalom, It is with great respect and love for the State of Israel that we write today. The lack of freedom for women at the Western Wall simply cannot continue. Women in Israel deserve full and equal rights, including freedom of religion and expression at the Western Wall. For 24 years Women of the Wall have prayed and struggled for their full freedom of religion at the Western Wall. The women have cooperated with police and the courts. Women of the Wall have been full partners in each of the government committees that have been appointed throughout the years, especially the most recent committees headed by Natan Sharansky and now, Tzvi Hauser. In April 2013, the District Court of Jerusalem reestablished the legality of women’s prayer at the Kotel in Judge Sobel’s decision that the prayer of Women of the Wall in no way violates the law or disturbs the peace. He declared that the local custom of the Western Wall should be defined by the most pluralist, inclusive terms. Yet despite the women’s cooperation and the court’s assurances, a regulation from July 2010 written by ultra-Orthodox Rabbi and Authority of the Western Wall and Holy Places Shmuel Rabinowitz, prohibits men and women from entering the Kotel Plaza with a torah, thus permanently denying all women access to a Torah Scroll. This regulation reminds Jews worldwide of the very dark days in Jewish history when we were forbidden to pray, read and study Torah. It is inconceivable that in 2013 in Israel Jewish women are refused access to the Torah at a public holy site in Israel. We ask that you intervene immediately to guarantee women from all over the world and Israel the full equal rights at the Western Wall. B’chavod Rav (With deep respect)…

In other words, this is a letter of complaint to the PM, about the ruling of one of his civil servants, the rabbi of the Kotel, who wouldn’t let them bring a Sefer Torah into the plaza. What they’re asking for is that the PM pick up the phone to his employee and order him to right away rescind his regulation. Otherwise…

Otherwise it would be just like those dark times in our history, when Jews were not allowed to pray, read and study the Torah.

If they were to raise their eyes from the wall right in front of them, to the other, higher plaza just 20 feet or so above their heads, they could be treated to the sight of a place where Jews right now, are not allowed not just to bring a Sefer Torah, but if they’re suspected of praying, immediately the cops are called in to grab them off the site.

The WOW have nothing to say about that. They see no similarity between their case, where they’ve twisted the arm of the law, with the glad hearted collaboration of two lower court judges – and the case of the complete prohibition on Jewish prayer by men, women and children on the Temple Mount.

Wanna’ do something subversive? Here’s what I did:

I went to their petition page, entered my personal data, and replaced their text with the highlighted text below. I also changed the subject to: Please Let Jews Pray on Temple Mount.

Mr. Prime Minister, please don’t allow patriotic Jews to be humiliated by the Arabs who rule the Temple Mount with your permission. Please let us pray there, in the areas that are halakhically permitted, and if need be please provide us with police protection as equal citizens of your country.

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How I Lost My Liberal View of Reform Jews and Started to Fear Them

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Back around the year 2000, I was invited by my very good friend, Rabbi Judi Abrams, to come on board a new project of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), a comprehensive prayer book that would streamline and organize the countless versions of Reform prayer books that had been out there.

I use the title Rabbi in Judi’s case, even though it isn’t the policy of our publication to use this honorarium for non-Orthodox clergy, much less women clergy, because she has earned it. She is one of my non-Orthodox friends who truly love the Talmud and know how to learn. So, when she invited me to be the designer of the new prayer book, I grabbed it. I needed the money—this was at the bursting phase of the first Internet bubble, and all my online clients had been massacred. But the project also offered me an interesting fig leaf, which I could use to justify my collaboration: this was going to be the first Reform siddur in history to include the full Sh’ma Israel reading, all three passages.

Previous siddurim have omitted the middle passage, which warns us what would happen if we don’t obey the commandments. Those earlier siddurim also omitted the third passage, about the tzitzit, but that part introduces a reminder of how to keep the commandments in our everyday life—so that without the middle part it’s kind of pointless.

During my two years, on and off, working on the siddur project, I began to develop a theory that the Reform, despite their anti-halachic, or a-halachic stance, were still inside the rabbinic umbrella. Based on my encounters with the more learned in the movement (I also met many stereotypical Reform rabbis who couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag made of blatts of gemora), I began to think of the Reform, especially the rank and file, as amaratzim — (lingo for Amei Ha’aratzot) the equivalent of the uneducated masses at the time just after the destruction of the second temple. The sages, who originally abhorred and loathed those amaratzim, once the temple was gone and the dark Diaspora had begun, started to view them as inseparable from the rest of the Jewish nation.

I felt that, despite its abysmal relationship with classical and traditional Judaism, the Reform movement was not beyond hope. And I offered, on a number of occasions, the following illustration to support my view:

We were at a large editorial meeting, discussing the texts of the Eighteen Blessings, the silent prayer or “Amida.” The Reform versions of the Amida range from ridiculously cumbersome to infuriatingly PC—compared with the traditional text, which is smooth and elegant, even in the Sephard version, which offers several alternative phrases in a number of places. No question, the Reform Amida was begging for a streamlining job.

Then one of the editors, a female clergy, suggested we add a special shmoneh-esreh blessing for our suffering LGBT brothers and sisters.

Needless to say, my little brain was working overtime trying to find justifications for that one. Was there any way that I, as an observant Jew, could lend my name to a siddur that included a special prayer for folks who break a major commandment? Might as well add a blessing for folks breaking Shabbes and another, special one, for our brothers and sisters who suffer from trichinosis. I was done for—the Yanover family would be going without fish Friday night.

But then the moderator told this nice lady: “Bring me a pasuk,” meaning offer a verse in the entire Jewish Bible that would support and illustrate the above mentioned suffering.

He spoke like a Jew. Never mind the outcome (I was let go a few months later, because of my tendency to open my big mouth to my superiors, so I never found out) – the man approached prayer from within the tradition, not as a sworn violator of the tradition. There was hope.

That episode also cost me a job with a new Haredi magazine, a competitor to Mishpacha, which hired me for a scary amount of money as senior editor—only to let me go after my boss had discovered my notes online regarding my hope for the Reform.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/yoris-news-clips/how-i-lost-my-liberal-view-of-reform-jews-and-started-to-fear-them/2013/06/10/

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