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Friday, December 28, 2012

US liberal Jews seek a new fight

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu reports that the 'women of the wall' have enlisted New York Times reporter Jodi Rudoren as part of their radical cause.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has stepped in to ask Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky “to study the issue and suggest ways to make the site more accommodating to all Jews,” New York Times new Jerusalem bureau chief Judi Rudoren wrote Wednesday.
“The Prime Minister thinks the Western Wall has to be a site that expresses the unity of the Jewish people, both inside Israel and outside the state of Israel,” Netanyahu’s senior adviser Ron Dermer told her. “He wants to preserve the unity of world Jewry. This is an important component of Israel’s strength.”
A woman who prays regularly at the site responded to Arutz Sheva,  saying that the Prime Minister did not define what "accommodating to all Jews" might entail, but that it is clear that offending the traditionally Orthodox and hareidi-religious  women who are present at the holy site from dawn to dusk for prayers would not preserve unity at all - unless they are not intended to be part of that unity.
The so-called “Women of the Wall” movement, headed by Reform and some Conservative American immigrants, succeeded this past week in winning liberal media support for their cause from Rudoren.
After promoting their cause earlier this week, she followed up Tuesday with a report of  “outrage” in the Diaspora over the deeply-rooted Jewish tradition to maintain modesty and protect the sexes from dropping barriers between sexes, a modern liberal trend that has encouraged a loss of family and moral values in Western countries.
Even Israel's uber-Liberal Supreme Court has not bought into this one. For most Israelis, the synagogue that I don't attend is Orthodox (and therefore the sexes sit separately).
Previous high-profile protests by the Women of the Wall failed to convince the High Court to rule against Orthodox Jewish authority at the holy site, and the justices refused their demand to carry Torah scrolls at the Wall.
However, the court later allowed them to do so at a more isolated area, known as Robinson’s Arch, south of the Western Wall Plaza.
The prayer shawls are a cover for a much broader battle.
The effort by Reform and Conservative leaders to be accepted as equals to Orthodox rabbis is the opening shot in what is bound to be a power struggle on issues far beyond that of women’s wearing a prayer shawl.
Rudoren unintentionally revealed their goals by writing  that the issue “has deepened a divide between the Jewish state and the Jewish Diaspora at a time when Israel is battling international isolation over its settlement policy.” The reform movement, as well as The New York Times, oppose Jewish rights to live in all of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria .
And that's not going to change if the 'women of the wall' are suddenly given control over the holy site.

By the way, this is not just an 'ultra-Orthodox'/Haredi issue. Ben Gedalyahu points out that even in the most modern Orthodox synagogues in the US, what the 'women of the wall' are seeking would not be acceptable.
Mixed men and women’s prayer  service is totally unacceptable in the Orthodox community and not only among “ultra-orthodox” Jews, as mainstream media implies.
Using a prayer shawl is halakhically permitted, but is rare. It is the custom of some women in women's prayer groups or on the women's side of the synagogue in recent times, as is holding the Torah in a women's service. However,  women's reading the Torah  is even less prevalent in women's prayer groups and allowed only without reciting the blessings.
The Kotel, however, has special status and the overwhelming number or worshipers there are traditionally or hareidi Orthodox, groups that vehemently oppose those changes and who represent continuity in custom and observance..
I suspect that once the Haredi parties get wind of this, it will become a red line in the coalition negotiations after the election, and that they will be backed - albeit not quite as vehemently - by Jewish Home and others. 

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At 5:47 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Carl, you totally misinterpret what Women of the Wall are about. They do not seek "control" over the Temple Mount. They seek equal access. Right now it is fundamentally unfair that women are treated as second class citizens at the Kotel. They are not even allowed to don prayer shawls and hold their own prayers services - single gender services - at the Kotel. That is absurd. The Kotel should be for everyone and not just the Haredim.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger InMemoryOf Yossi said...

Let them worry about their own mitzvos first. Start with tzinus and covering their hair. Then let's move on to shabbos and kashrus. If they have time for their prayer groups after taking care of their homes and doing some gemilus chasadim, then great!
It is not their intent to be really Jewish women, they want to be really Jewish MEN.
I feel sad for them. They don't feel whole being themselves, so they think they need to act like men.


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