Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90
Women at the Wall

An open letter to Minister Meirav Michaeli.

Dear Minister Meirav Michaeli,

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You don’t know me, but believe I know your public image as well as your ideology and political principles. It wouldn’t be of great surprise to you that my orthodox orientation usually means that I didn’t vote for you, nor do I agree with much of your views of family, religion and more. Be that as it may, you are my Minister of Transport, an elected leader of my country, and a fellow-Jew. Your success in these realms is mine, and while disagreeing, I consider you a fellow sister of our JEWISH family, and hope that you consider me a fellow brother.

Therefore, I was aghast with profound shock and utter dismay that this week, in a meeting of OUR Knesset committee on freedom of religion, when describing how disappointed you are with the current rules and procedures at OUR Kotel, you stated that “One day, we will have to FREE THE KOTEL AGAIN“.

Do you truly believe that your fellow Jews, those “running” the Kotel today, are your ENEMIES, on the level of the Jordanian forces who ruled it for 19 years, that thus, you will have to “free” it as was done in 1967? Do you believe that if [you assume that] “the majority believe…that the Kotel is a Chareidi synagogue,” it brands it as being in foreign enemy hands that must be recaptured into “our” control?

It’s truly beyond me how you equate a 19 year BAN prohibiting any Jew from setting foot near the Kotel to the current situation where you, any Jew and any human being can frequent it as often as they see fit, even if they must maintain a separation of sexes in certain areas. But it totally baffles me how you can brand fellow Jews, who you disagree with, as another nation that’s “control” must be set “free” as in 1967. Assuming that indeed you shockingly think this way, will you call upon the Jewish soldiers of the IDF to “again” capture the Kotel and fight against their own fellow Jews?

I don’t think I need to tell you the terrible damage done throughout our history where statements and actions separated our people to the extent that there was a feeling of two nations, leading at times to bloodshed and beyond. Disagreement and debate are part-and-parcel of any family, all the more so the Jewish nation as a whole.

But we are and will remain ONE family! I therefore urge you to speedily apologize and take back this disaster of a comment, and continue to stand up, debate, call for change and so all to further your agenda…within the family of this great Jewish nation.

 

 

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Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein, formerly the Rabbi of the Beth Israel Synagogue in Halifax, Canada, and formerly Director of Training and Placement at the Straus-Amiel and Beren-Amiel Institute of Ohr Torah Stone, R' Grunstein serves as an administrator of the Rabbinical Court of Gush Etzion, and is part of the founding faculty of the morning English speaking Kollel of Efrat. An experienced rabbi, writer and popular lecturer in Israel and around the world, he is the author of Daven Your Age (2013), Beyond Routine (2018), Murmurings of a Minyaner (2021), co-editor of Machzor Vechai Bahem (OTS 2020 and 2021), and has over 1,000 recorded classes online in both Hebrew and English.