Letters continue to pour in on Kotel, conversion policies
Regarding “Wagging the dog” (Editorial, July 2), that cliché certainly comes to mind with the recent decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give in to the demands of the haredim with regard to the Western Wall. The percentage of the population this group represents is extremely small in relationship to the power it exerts and its attempts to control our lives by claiming it is protecting Judaism.
Such poppycock! Instead of protecting Judaism, the haredim are driving more and more Jews away from our tradition. (In addition to the Wall, there are the issues of women whose husbands refuse to give them a ritual divorce, the corrupt system of kashrut supervision and violent protests against service in the IDF. The list could go on and on.)
When will Netanyahu and the government call their bluff and simply go to early elections? Perhaps we will see them back down. If they are not stopped now, how far will they try to legislate to control our lives even more?
This is a struggle for power, and the citizens of Israel deserve better.
Once again, I find myself chagrined by a twisted logic expressed in the editorial of my otherwise favorite newspaper. You confound the issue of historic, religious Judaism with Israeli-Jewish democracy.
Israel’s Declaration of Independence guarantees every individual the right to freedom of worship. On the other hand, prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s pledge of a religious “status quo,” as described by Charles Bybelezer in the same issue (“‘Egalitarian prayer’ and ‘who is a Jew?’” Comment & Features, July 2), relates to the public domain. Traditional halachic Judaism is that which determines Israel’s “legal” public standards (the Western Wall, marriage, birth, conversion, burial, etc.).
The Jerusalem Post
would no sooner advocate for the pope to be more democratic by listening to the millions of Christians who practice their faith differently, nor for the Dalai Lama to follow a majority of Buddhists in the orient. Divinely ordained religious practices are not decided upon by popular vote.
You ought not stir the pot by knowingly mixing political ingredients with those of religious observance.
STEVE M. SOLOMON
Cheers and praise for Charles Bybelezer. He helps clarify the confusion that resulted from the fusion and resulting illusions of two separate issues: whether to change the status quo of post-1967 prayer arrangements at the Western Wall, and who is to decide who is a Jew.
Our rabbis could have welcomed the egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall. But in keeping with their obfuscating tradition, they refused. Nothing new there.
Virginia Cowles, in her book The Rothschilds, says about Edmond de Rothschild: “On his first trip [to Palestine], Edmond tried to buy the Wailing Wall, with the intention of transforming the neighborhood into a Jewish shrine. As compensation, he offered to resettle the Arabs on a piece of land of their choosing. Apparently, the scheme lapsed, not because of Arab indifference, but because of the mysterious opposition of the Jerusalem rabbis.”
No mystery there nor here.
The furor being created by the leadership of American progressive Jews is wholly artificial. One would think from the media that hundreds of buses bearing thousands of these Jews were lining up 360 days of the year at the Western Wall in order for them to pray in egalitarian groups.
What we have, actually, is a group of naïve women unwittingly being manipulated by these movements into demonstrating to show their equality with men. They make their presence felt by loud protests at the Western Wall once a month in the presence of journalists, disturbing the people who come to genuinely pour out their hearts to their Maker.
The progressive Jewish movements in America should be ashamed of themselves. Their deliberate attempt to alienate American Jewry is solely an attempt at recognition of their aspect of the Jewish religion as a genuine expression of Judaism.
Pardon me if I believed this long that it was the government of Israel that ran the internal affairs of the state. It appears I have been in error.
It is the Jews that inhabit the US who seemingly have taken that role for themselves and are presumptuous enough in their self-righteousness to assume the weight of their purse gives them that right.LEILA CUMBER
Religion for sale! $10,000? $100,000? $1,000,000?
There now appears to be a wonderful opportunity to make a great deal of money: Open a travel agency in the US specializing in trips to Israel. Apparently, there are millions of American Jews – the vast majority of whom have never been to Israel – who are now clamoring, somewhat hysterically, to come for one purpose: to pray at the Western Wall.
Some of them will come as couples to realize what seems to be their life’s ambition – to stand at the Kotel next to their spouse. To stand a few meters apart just won’t do. Others will not come as couples for the simple reason that so many of their spouses are not Jewish.
Are we living in Chelm?
One of the placards at Saturday night’s rally in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence (“Coalition leaders reach deal to temporarily resolve conversion crisis,” July 2) stated: “There is more than one way to be Jewish.” I guess it’s this belief that explains all the hype associated not only with last week’s vote on expanded egalitarian practice at the Western Wall, but also the elevation of today’s political beliefs to the level of faith and religion.
What’s happened to our commitment to tradition? Why do we predicate every decision and practice on what we determine to be politically correct?
While we might differ in how we practice Jewish rituals and customs, there is only one way to be Jewish. Those committed to this belief will assure the continuity of the Jewish people.
The emotional reaction caused by the recent government actions fails to recognize the serious implications for other critical issues in the future.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself admitted what went into the final decision (“PM to AIPAC: It was either the Kotel or my government,” June 30). What many suspected and whispered is now clear for all to see. The single overarching goal for the prime minister is to remain in office.
It is highly doubtful that the ultra-Orthodox parties would have followed through on their threat to leave the coalition. Their ability to maintain substantive benefits for their constituents would have been severely weakened. What we do know is that the prime minister has ceded control to parties that hold barely 10% of the Knesset’s seats, meaning we are moving ever closer to an Iranian-style theocracy where inflexible religious leaders hold the ultimate power to control the elected government.
One doubts that the PM can ever be trusted to keep his word on any contentious issue that the haredi parties wish to weigh in on. This is not just a question of American Jews being offended – this is the concentration of power in the hands of a few unelected rabbis and their followers, with the potential to affect every single Israeli in ways not yet dreamed of.
EFRAIM A. COHEN
Unlike the US, where there is a separation of religion and state, Israel is a religious state. We should accept this reality. Both Israeli and American Jews could make aliya – in ether direction.JONAS RABIN
Morganville, New Jersey