We are dismayed by the current Israeli government’s decision to go ahead with the so-called Kotel Compromise, partitioning the Kotel into two plazas – the long-established plaza operated according to traditional Orthodoxy, and a new heterodox plaza for mixed prayer.
The proposed new plaza is being supported by Women of the Wall and the Reform and Conservative movements. It seems that the government has bought into their argument that a second plaza would mend a rift between Diaspora Jews and Israel.
We believe, though, that the proponents of continuing the status quo have made a compelling argument that there are hundreds of thousands of Diaspora Jews that passionately, and as a matter of the most serious religious obligation, fervently want to continue the way Jews have prayed for thousands of years. And that should count.
But there is also a practical reason for preserving the status quo at the Kotel.
The Al Aksa Mosque is touted by Muslim leaders as one of the foundational elements of the Muslim faith and as far as we know it is being operated in strict and undeviating conformity with Muslim law. Indeed, the periodic clashes that erupt there between Arabs and Jews stem from the former’s claims that any Jewish presence perforce profanes the site and interferes with prayers by the Muslim faithful. Much of the Arab world insists that retention of the Temple Mount is a religious imperative. And much of the international community agrees.
By contrast, abandoning core halachot pertaining to the Kotel cannot but signal a lack of Divine dimension to our being there. This is especially so since the proponents of change do not point to any religious law requiring that their plan be adopted.
So why in Heaven’s name would we as a people want to surrender our best argument – that we are at the Kotel because Hashem put us there?