Commentor S.M. emailed a news alert and commented…
Israel's Cabinet voted Sunday to allow non-Orthodox Jewish prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a move advocates said marked a historic show of government support for liberal streams of Judaism.
The issue is of particular importance to the Jewish community in the United States, where the more liberal Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism are dominant. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed the plan in an attempt to please American Jews, a key source of support for Israel, despite stiff opposition by ultra-Orthodox and religious nationalist elements in Israel who are key members of his own government.
"I know this is a sensitive topic, but I think it is an appropriate solution, a creative solution," Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday's Cabinet meeting, where members voted on the plan.
According to the government plan, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, Israel will build a new plaza for mixed gender prayer at the Western Wall, adjacent to the Orthodox prayer plaza but separate from it.
COMMENT - Shalom alekem! Just wondering what your thoughts are about this. I honestly don't see why these people can't just respect the wishes of Orthodox Jews. What happened to ... "What is hateful to you, don't do to others"...? Maybe they'd like it if the Na Nachs invaded their synagogues and disrupted their services.
What's next? A new section at the Western Wall that's set aside just for the LGBT community? Where does it end? And when the Temple is rebuilt, are these Reform and Conservative women going to lobby for the right to serve as Levitical singers and priests? Is the Israeli government going to force the Orthodox Jewish to accept a female High Priest?
The international news is an absolute wonder. Pregnant Jewish women are being stabbed almost daily by “Palestinian” Arab children (11 year olds, 13 year olds, 16 year olds) who are plied with propaganda begging them to kill and providing charts on the best places to stab to be effective, and that gets no mention in the international news (though the Foreign Minister of Sweden then complains that the 13 year old running at a policeman with the bloodly knife is shot).
But the decision to change from a wooden prayer platform on the south end of the Western Wall to a tiled platform with improved lighting…that’s world shaking news.
Here’s the conflict in brief, and the new situation:
The Western Wall Plaza, the holiest place for Jewish prayer CURRENTLY AVAILALBLE (the holiest place is the Temple Mount, but there’s a mosque there so Jews are not allowed to pray there – it might upset somebody), is operated as a traditional Jewish holy site / synagogue – meaning prayer space is separated by gender. Everyone is welcome, there is no charge, and nobody is checking people’s religion, ethnic origin, gender preference, or whatever. The site can’t be expanded as it’s bounded by Old City houses on the north side, and an archelogical garden fall off on the south side. (There are discussions of going down, making it a multi-level site.)
Jewish men’s prayer involves wearing tefillin (the black box phylacteries) daily for morning prayer, wearing a prayer shawl for daily morning prayer, and reading from the Torah scroll on Monday, Thursday, Shabbat morning, Shabbat afternoon, and on holidays and Rosh Chodesh – the new month day, and reciting a series of prayers from the prayer book.
Jewish women’s prayer is more flexible, does not require any of the above, and may recite the prayer series from the prayer book or not, as time allows. Jewish women often frequently recite Psalms.
Now there is ongoing friction in Israel between religious authorities that are government funded, such as the Western Wall Plaza authority, city burial authories, and others, and the nature of democracy. The religious authorities are maintaining a very clear well understood religious standard. But some people come along and want to do their own thing. Women who want to do men’s prayer actions – or mixed gender prayer groups. They complain this is publically funded, you can’t discriminate.
The Israeli government is trying to square this circle by saying they’ll build ANOTHER small plaza area inside the archtelogical garden south of the current Western Wall Plaza, which is also at a lower level and therefore out of sight from the Western Wall Plaza, to satisfy these people’s demand. THEY ALREADY DID THIS a few years ago, but the area is somewhat temporary with a wooden platform floor and temporary flood lights. The government is trying to close this issue by offering to upgrade the site to permanancy, improving the flooring, lighting, and entrance path to get there.
It’s a reasonable compromise. NOTE that while the religious party government ministers are grumbling about it, they are NOT opposing it or voting against it.
S.M., you make a good point – these people do NOT respect tradition, they only respect their own wants. But if they have enough of a consituency, or legal or monetary power, then it’s reasonable of the government to try to accomodate them and get this issue out of everyone’s faces.
Sadly, at least one segment of these people has stated they will NOT accept this accomodation and will continue to fight the 97% of people who use the Western Wall Plaza as the traditional Jewish holy site it is.