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November 04, 2013

Sharansky Calls Kotel "The Most Ancient Orthodox Synagogue In The World" Which Needs To Be Protected From Seculars, Non-Orthodox, WoW

Kotel Annotated 2"One religious woman shouted at a female in a prayer shawl, 'You’re the reason our soldiers have died!' Up in the plaza where the men stood, a line of haredi boys formed a sort of face-off with American secular teenage boys, many of whom attempted, in fluent but accented Hebrew, to defend the women praying below. Lines of Israeli police — male in the upper plaza and female down below in the women’s section — stood idly by, looking bored and squinting in the sun. One yeshiva student, an American who had moved to Israel from Brooklyn, shouted out, 'If you want to wear a pair of tefillin, first grow a pair!' His friends clapped him on the shoulders and howled in laughter."

Kotel Annotated 2

The Times of Israel gives us a good look into the mind of Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky, the man largely responsible for the government's Kotel compromise with Women of the Wall:

…Sharansky, speaking on Monday morning, said he wasn’t sure when he made the proposal if it would be accepted. He had tried, he said, to be sympathetic to the demands of all sides, and to act “as a bridge” between them.

“For the Kotel, the most important thing is to keep the most ancient Orthodox synagogue in the world in one piece,” he said. “I have no doubt that on both sides, there is a feeling that they didn’t get everything they deserved. But if one side gets everything, that means the other side is defeated. And then we all lose.”…

There is no evidence that the Kotel is the "most ancient Orthodox synagogue in the world." In fact, throughout the past 1900+ years, other than the recital of psalms and an occasional prayer service, the Kotel was used as an individual pilgrimage site and as a reminder of the destroyed Temple – no more, no less.

So Sharansky's history – like much of his philosophy – is faulty.

But the key point here is that Sharansky's goal – which, because he was handpicked by Prime Minister Netanyahu to deal with this issue is presumably Netanyahu's goal, as well – is to keep this mythical "most ancient Orthodox synagogue in the world" together "in one piece" in the hands of haredim and, to a lesser extent, the Zionist Orthodox.

The goal was not to reach an honest and fair compromise that would share access to the world Jewish community's most important Jewish heritage site.

This also explains Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman's bizarre statement made earlier this month effectively ceding the Kotel proper to haredim.

Until now, WoW's goal has for 25 years been to hold women's only prayer services in the Kotel proper's women's section, with participants donning tefillin (phylacteries) and tallits (prayer shawls) if they so choose and with the Torah being read from a Torah scroll.

WoW's goal is an anathema to those who view the Kotel as a haredi synagogue – as Sharansky and Netanyahu apparently do, even though Israel's courts do not.

Hence Sharansky's "compromise."

But why did Hoffman accept it?

Almost certainly because she was faced with eroding support from her own Reform Movement – whose young, weak and naive leader, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, was a gust at Chabad's International Shluchim Convention held this week in New York City – and because the Conservative Movement was allegedly actively trying to gain dominance over the new egalitarian prayer section on the far side of the Mughrabi Bridge at the expense of the Reform Movement and WoW.

Left in that uncomfortable and weak position, Hoffman essentially gave up in exchange for retaining some control over that egalitarian area. (Some think she was also given inducements to make that decision. Right now there is no way to prove this, however.)

Meanwhile, while there was no violence at this morning's WoW prayers, haredim did try to disrupt the WoW prayer service, bith by using loudspeakers to drown it out, which police stopped for the first time, and by shouting insults:

…One religious woman shouted at a female in a prayer shawl, “You’re the reason our soldiers have died!”

Up in the plaza where the men stood, a line of Haredi boys formed a sort of face-off with American secular teenage boys, many of whom attempted, in fluent but accented Hebrew, to defend the women praying below. Lines of Israeli police — male in the upper plaza and female down below in the women’s section — stood idly by, looking bored and squinting in the sun. One yeshiva student, an American who had moved to Israel from Brooklyn, shouted out, “If you want to wear a pair of tefillin, first grow a pair!” His friends clapped him on the shoulders and howled in laughter.…

This is what Anat Hoffman calls a victory.

Comments

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Reform and Conservative unfortunately ae withering in a slow death.

I don't understand the significance of the head Reform rabbi attending the Schluchim convention. Is this a major change in direction for the Reform movement or some nefarious scheme being perpetrated by Chabad?

Reform is doing just fine in the US as far as I can tell.

I read this article, which was quite favorable to the Women of the Wall. As the Times of Israel is pretty conservative (politically) in its views, I was pleasantly surprised.

Yes, the article did quote Scharansky as saying the Kotel is an Orthodox synagogue, "the oldest in the world," something I thoroughly disagree with. The Kotel belongs to all Jews, including ones like me who are generally irreligious. It only became orthodox in 1967 because of some political horse trading, and is Exhibit A as to why religion and state should never mix, not even in the Holy Land.

I was about to write Scharansky another letter similar to one I wrote him in April, which was in response to another of your comments, in which you wrote that Scharansky sniffed that women not wearing tefillin, phyllacteries, etc. is the custom and that custom needed to be maintained. I was quite angry, and wrote Scharansky a very nasty letter saying he left his balls in the gulag.

A couple of weeks later Scharanksy announced his great compromise. He never answered my letter; I didn't expect him to, but maybe he read it.

However, what Scharansky did not say, at least not in the Times of Israel article you linked to, was that the Kotel needed to be protected from WoW, seculars, and non-orthodox. The person who said that was you.

From today's NYTimes (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/04/world/middleeast/to-shape-young-palestinians-hamas-creates-its-own-textbooks.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131104&_r=0)

"When a class of Palestinian ninth graders in Gaza recently discussed the deadly 1929 riots over access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, it was guided by a new textbook, introduced this fall by the Islamist Hamas movement.

Asked the lesson of the uprising, one of the 40 boys in class promptly answered, “Al Buraq Wall is an Islamic property,” using the Muslim name for the site, one of the holiest in Judaism."

As has been said: Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts. Looks like both Hamas and Sharansky have a problem with historical fact.

First Bloomberg tuches kissing, now this. Shransky used to be my hero. He has jumped the shark.


While Appricating the emotional symbolism of the wall, though to young to remember the six day war, I am stirred with emotion while watching the news real film of the chief Rabbi blowing the shofar there, as part of a Jewish state, for the first time in two thousand years.

Though I am finding the cynical politics, and fanatics on both sides leaving me asking, " might present day Judaism be better without this ancernt bricks and mortar?".

No I am not avocating returning east Jerusalem, as I am sure temple mount would be used to fire missiles at Tel Aiv.

Steven in Uk.

This is what boggles me the most. Reform jews dont want traditional judaism yet they try to take the most traditional jewish site in the world and mark their territory on it! can anyone explain this logic in a mature fashion?

@satansAdvocate

I recall some years back a printed discussion about "land for peace" in which a number of Reform leaders (Israelis, I think) were willing to give up the Old City because, after all, they didn't care about The Temple (either the Second destroyed one, or a hypothetical rebuilt Third one). Some just didn't care about the Kotel.

In this discussion of Nashot haKotel, however, please remember that the founders of that group 25 years ago were not Reform Jews. They were Orthodox and orthoprax Conservative Jewish women, well educated Jewishly. I know this for a fact as a close family member was part of that group.

The schism that surfaced last month between Anat Hoffman (of the Reformists) and the Old Guard is quite telling in this.

satansAdvocate-


This is what boggles me the most. Charedi jews dont want traditional judaism yet they try to take the most traditional jewish site in the world and mark their territory on it! can anyone explain this logic in a mature fashion?

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