I was on a plane flying home when the new Religious Affairs minister David Azoulay, from Shas, said that Women of the Wall do not go to the Kotel to pray and only wear tallit and tefilin and read Torah as a provocation. This was at a meeting with the new Justice Minister Ayeled Shaked that was called specifically to discuss the issue of Women of the Wall at the Kotel.

At the same meeting, he also said that Reform Jews are a disaster for Israel. His intolerant remarks were intended to further denigrate Women of the Wall in the eyes of the haredim. If WoW is Reform, then we are not only a disaster for Israel, but we are delegitimized as a Halachic women’s prayer group. He essentially killed two birds with one unbelievably disgusting stone.

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On Thursday, June 18, after the WOW Rosh Hodesh service at the Kotel, MK Yisrael Eichler, of the United Torah Judaism party, said that Women of the Wall are: “No less dangerous than the vandals who attacked the Christian site (the Church of the Multiplication) on the Sea of Galilee.” Being called national disasters and compared to people who vandalized an ancient church that is one of Christianity’s holiest sites show that the new government is openly waging war on liberal Judaism in Israel.

The diaspora response has been that this type of behavior against religious freedom will not be tolerated. The ADL condemned these attacks in no uncertain terms. ADL director Abe Foxman said. "Their comments are an affront to millions of Jews in Israel and around the world. It is imperative that the government of Israel engage in sustained and intensified efforts to ensure that all Jews can feel at home and comfortable in Israel, regardless of belief or denominational affiliation. Israel and the Jewish people will be better off once all Jews and their sense of Judaism are equally respected and tolerated.”

On Wednesday, June 17, the Reform movement called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to publically repudiate the comments of Azoulay and Eichler. In response, Netanyahu announced that he strongly disagrees with the remarks and hopes that Israel will remain a place where all Jews can feel at home. But where was the condemnation?

I strongly disagree with people who put their feet on the seats of the train or speak loudly on their cell phones during my daily commute from Beer Sheva to Tel Aviv. I condemn people who vandalize holy places in price-tag attacks, racists who shoot-up churches, and terrorists who stab policemen and shoot rockets aimed at my home.

I was on a plane on Rosh Hodesh because I was returning home after getting married abroad. Like so many Israelis, I don’t want the rabbinate telling me who can perform my wedding, or what kind of ceremony I can have.

I condemn – not just strongly disagree with – the fact that my rabbi is not recognized by the government to perform weddings or conversions. I see the handwriting on the wall and fear the further infringement of religious rights. I fear there will be a return of monthly arrests of women praying at the Kotel.

Those people who believe in freedom of religion and civil liberty must band together and tell Netanyahu that Israel can only be a place where all Jews feel at home when the haredi minority is not allowed to dictate the terms of Judaism. It is time to separate religion from state and abolish the rabbinute.
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