November 4: Readers react to this week’s incident at Kotel

Should formal, non-Halachic forms of Jewish worship be permitted in the same space and in the presence of Orthodox worshipers?

November 6, 2016 16:53
3 minute read.

Letters. (photo credit: REUTERS)

With regard to “Violent fracas breaks out at Western Wall during progressive prayer rally” (November 3), the issue of worship at the Western Wall can be succinctly stated: Should formal, non-Halachic forms of Jewish worship be permitted in the same space and in the presence of Orthodox worshipers?

Alternative practices generate incitement, which is why there has been an attempt to isolate such practices to an alternate location, out of view. But this issue is so volatile, even the idea of government permission for such a location is a very hot political potato. (In the Knesset there are only surrogate representatives of Reform Jews, as compared to a very real Orthodox bloc.)

Reform Jews should remember how the Conservative Movement was created in the US. Some 150 years ago, Isaac Meyer Wise attempted to impose his religious practice on all the visiting liberal rabbis who came to Cincinnati for the first Hebrew Union College graduation. He served them a decidedly non-kosher banquet. The backlash was so great, it established an entire denomination lasting to this day.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is wise in counseling that it is better to work quietly and slowly than to trigger a huge political backlash that Reform Jews, without MKs, cannot win.


I fully support the right of the Women of the Wall to pray as they see fit, but they had no place violating my right as a traditional Jewish woman who prays in an area designated for the private and exclusive prayer of women who choose not to pray in the presence of men.

They owe an apology.

Their campaign for rights should not trample on my right to pray at the Western Wall in a traditional manner.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has again displayed his apparently unlimited combination of chutzpah, arrogance and jingoism (“PM tells Diaspora leaders: Stop your public battles over issues of religion and state,” November 2).

Israel can’t have it both ways, constantly demanding support from Diaspora communities but refusing to fulfill obligations and promises made to them, such as access to the Western Wall.

Kiryat Tivon
The writer is a retired rabbi and former president of the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael/ Jewish National Fund in Queensland, Australia.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s entreaty to Diaspora leaders sadly echoes American Jewish leaders’ instructions during World War II. In both cases, leaders called for patience and silence while they supposedly exercised their influence behind closed doors.

I well remember my parents’ response when I asked why there was no massive outcry from the American Jewish community during the Holocaust: “Our leaders told us not to rock the boat, that they were working behind the scenes.” We know how that turned out.

The prime minister says that when it comes to implementing the cabinet-approved compromise regarding egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall, “the less publicly we talk about it, the better chance we have to resolve” this dispute. To the contrary: Hardliners who oppose implementation will have no incentive to comply with the will of Jews throughout the world if that will is not openly and forcefully expressed.

Zichron Ya’acov

I am helping my granddaughter prepare a sermon for her bat mitzva Shabbat. We have chosen the topic of “Debate for the Sake of Heaven,” or the proper way to debate for the sake of religion and ritual observance.

Our sages present the disciples of Hillel and Shammai as the classic and perfect example for such discourse.

These two schools of thought disagreed on and debated almost every aspect of Judaism and held opposite opinions on divorce, ritual purity, and kashrut. Yet the Mishna tells us they loved one another and respected each other’s opinions and observances to the point of “intermarriage” and sharing their food utensils, which probably included breaking bread.

Where are Hillel and Shammai now that we need them?


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