Response to Rabinowitz

Sir, – Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz (“Not Orthodox and not Reform,” Comment & Features, November 5) is to be complimented on his impeccable English and his efforts to describe worship at the Kotel (Western Wall) as “the place of prayer for every individual” in Israel.

He continues by saying that the Kotel authorities “must carefully safeguard the individual’s right to privacy and respect during the precious moments of prayer.” He also states that people crowd together in prayer and no one complains that “this place is too small.” Finally he states: “And both the observant and the secular, both Jews and non-Jews, will continue to pray at the Western Wall Plaza side by side with mutual respect and brotherhood.....”

I guess the learned rabbi never attempted to pray in the women’s section.

Women are allotted possibly one-fifth or less space at the Kotel. Frequently, women stand three to four rows deep, including strollers and carriages.

Elbowing, pushing and shoving is frequent. Getting a spot adjacent to the Wall is near impossible.

I know. I live near the Kotel and have given up trying.

The mehitza, the wall of woven plastic separating the men from the women, has grown over the years. The late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein established a minimum of three feet as necessary for a mehitza to be kosher in a place of prayer. The current mehitza meets the extreme standards of the haredi community, with no regard for women who wish to observe family members celebrating a bar mitzva or other momentous occasion. Women stand on precarious plastic chairs peering over the mehitza in a hope of catching a glimpse of the celebrant.

A mother who suffered the pangs of labor, gave birth to a boy and raised him in the Jewish tradition is deprived of the joy of seeing him called to the Torah without risking a serious fall.

How many men at the Kotel need to stand on plastic chairs to observe someone being called up to the Torah? As for mutual respect, what business is it of anyone to dictate to another worshipper what kind of tallit (prayer shawl) to wear and how loud to sing? If a woman finds spiritual expression enveloping herself in a tallit and singing her prayers, why does this disturb male worshippers? She certainly meets the clothing requirements for modesty. Besides, she can’t be seen and she certainly can’t be heard, considering the racket some men make at the Kotel, yelling loudly, arguing loudly or singing and dancing loudly.

Women at the Kotel are marginalized, disrespected and deprived of the spiritually uplifting religious experience of the men. If you don’t believe me, Rabbi Rabinowitz, try praying in the women’s section some time and then come and lecture us about mutual respect among men and women.

SARAH PEARL
Jerusalem

Where’s the outrage?

Sir, – Regarding “Poultry breeders halt egg deliveries over price dispute” (November 5), there is a demand to raise prices by 5 percent. Why is it that the whole country was up in arms about the high price of cottage cheese, a far less important diet staple than eggs? The fact is, eggs here already cost two to three times as much as in most areas of the United States.

Given, as I understand, that there are in excess of six million eggs here in cold storage – the equivalent of almost 100 for every man, woman and child – I think there should be an investigation into the very tight monopolistic controls on distribution and pricing, primarily by Tnuva.

MARCHAL KAPLAN
Jerusalem

Busting the mandate

Sir, – In “Bust of Sir Winston Churchill unveiled in Jerusalem” (November 5), Greer Fay Cashman writes of Churchill’s love of Israel and Jews, and his connection to Israel and Zionism.

Cashman did not mention that Churchill, as colonial secretary in 1922, divided the area known as the Palestine Mandate into two entities, giving about 80 percent to the Arabs and 20% to the Jews, specifically in violation of the British and League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.

This was the original “two state solution.” Jerusalem, at least, was not divided at that time.

AHARON GOLDBERG
Hatzor Haglilit

Signalling intentions

Sir, – I fully agree with “Lights on!” (Editorial, November 2).

I wish to add another comment, that is for the relevant authorities to fully implement the existing law obligating drivers to use turn signals (called vinkerim here) before turning, pulling away from the curb or changing lanes on motorways.

NORMAN BRUDNE
Netanya

Diversity not at fault

Sir, – In “Obama, Islam and Israel” (Into the Fray, November 2), Martin Sherman proposes “pertinent considerations” in what he considers the degeneration of the US-Israel relationship.

One is that the changing demographics of the US Democratic Party reflect a changing attitude toward Israel. In point of fact, ever since the Balfour Declaration, attitudes toward what would eventually become Israel have been evolving. The position of the Obama administration should be attributed to the unifying process of the American political system, not to divisiveness based on diversity.

Focusing on the diversity of the Democratic Party as a cause for changing attitudes toward Israel seems to me racist in tone.

Concluding that the white Republican American is pro-Israel and the diverse Democratic American is anti-Israel based on one poll is intellectually fraudulent.

I am a fervent supporter of Israel – always have been and always will be.

GEORGE FORMAN
Marlton, New Jersey

Tension in the South

Sir, – Last March, my husband and I spent a Shabbat with our daughter, her husband and six children in a moshav near Ashkelon. It had been quiet since the previous summer and no one was expecting trouble.

Suddenly, at around 10 p.m.

on Friday night, the first siren sounded. Panic struck: First, clear the small shelter at the other end of the house, then get six kids already on their way to bed into the shelter, all within 45 seconds.

Once inside we could hear the explosions loud and clear. After 10 minutes, quiet reigned. My son-in-law told the older children that there was nothing to be afraid of because once inside the shelter nothing could happen to them. In parallel, my seven-year-old grandson was playing with a small car on the carpet while chanting, “Bee-boo, bee-boo, quick, let’s evacuate the wounded.”

At midnight the second siren sounded. By this time we were all in bed. Go get six kids downstairs within 45 seconds. Thank God, nothing happened to us, but the explosions were heard.

This was repeated again throughout the night, at 2:00, 4:15, 6:00, 6:45 and, the last for the day, 7:15 a.m. We were dead tired but well.

When reading the newspaper and listening to the news, all I heard was that 160 rockets had hit the South over Shabbat – but not one report gave a clue as to the personal trauma that took place.

Last weekend my daughter and her family joined us for Shabbat in Petah Tikva. When an ambulance passed by, one of my granddaughters grabbed her mother’s skirt. “Don’t worry,” her mother reassured her, “it’s only an ambulance.”

JOYCE KAHN
Petah Tikva

Sir, – Red is a color, not a code! My friends and I call on all concerned citizens to wear red on Thursday, November 8, as a sign of solidarity with the South.

I also call on the government to sound the alarm throughout the country when rockets are aimed at the South, so that the rest of the country can feel what my friends there are experiencing – and maybe do something about it!

FREYDA ABRAMS
Netanya

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