Recently there has been controversy in Israel over the decision to expand the egalitarian section of the Kotel. Religious Jews feel that this is an unholy practice that should not take place at such a holy site. The other side claims that the Kotel is for all Jews and not just the Orthodox. My question is: who are these people who favor this section? Who are the ones arguing that the Kotel, and by extension Israel, belongs to all Jews? The answer is very simple: secular American Jews. Does the Kotel belong to all Jews and not just the orthodox, and does the state of Israel belong to all Jews and not just Israelis?
The answer is both yes and no. In a religious sense: yes, Israel does belong to all of the Jewish people. All of it is our land and all of it is our birthright. Whether you live in Jerusalem, New York or London you have an equal inheritance to our holy land. G-D gave this land to all of the Jewish people and not just Israelis. This is why Israel has the right of return. Any Jew or even “half- Jew” has the right to move to Israel and have full democratic rights.
This brings us to why the answer is no. No, the State does not belong to American Jews. Should you decide that you do not want to make Aliya then you do not have the right to impose your will on the Israeli populace. Living in Israel is a daily struggle. We face a constant security threat and a cost of living so high most of us will never own a home. Even with most of these struggles most of us remain here.
This brings me back to the Kotel. The amount of Israeli women who feel oppressed because they cannot put on tfillin at the Kotel is so low I doubt it is even close to a percentage point. Most Israelis accept Orthodox Judaism as the official form of Judaism and have no need for Reform. Golda Meir summed it up perfectly when she stated: “The synagogue that I do not go to is Orthodox”. So all of these issues that Reform fight for mean nothing to the vast majority of the Israeli populace.
Israel has a very fragile status quo when it comes to religion. We keep this status quo because we have so many bigger issues that we cannot deal with because of the internal strife that this will cause. The reality we live in does not give us the luxury to deal with such issues. American Jews do not have such problems. They have the luxury to feel the biggest issues in Israel is whether or not Judaism is liberal enough. I am personally disgusted by the selfishness that the American Jewish establishment displays. As I said, the situation here is very fragile and we do not need you guys coming here and adding fuel to the fire. With the sky high intermarriage rates you have much bigger issues to deal with than this. If the Israeli people wanted your forms of Judaism you would know it; after all, this is a democracy.
Democracy; yes, that is the key. If you guys care so much about Israel and the Judaism here then come here and make Aliya. Since Reform loves to brag about its numbers so much let's see you move here and make change. You guys would have tremendous voting power and the politicians would not be able to ignore your views. In reality, we all know that is not going to happen. You guys are going to stay in America living the good life earning tons of money and not fighting wars. Who can blame you? If you want to move here than I say welcome home. If not, then enough with your self-righteousness. Stop trying to push your agenda that could create tremendous social problems. We will have to live with the fallout, not you. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. I hope that one day you will all come home and help us build the Jewish future. Until that day comes, know your role. The world is not your safe space.