Reform Jewry's hidden agenda with the Western Wall now revealed - opinion

The huge motivation to attain legitimacy for new streams in Judaism, especially at the Western Wall, is clear to me. But at what price?

 THE MASSES pray at the Western Wall during Sukkot. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
THE MASSES pray at the Western Wall during Sukkot.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

After many years of demonstrations at the Western Wall, the cat is out of the bag. 

In a message to the public, the Reform Movement revealed the true motives behind its public battle to change the face of the Western Wall. 

In a clip posted online this week, leaders of the movement said “the battle for the Western Wall outline is a symbolic battle” whose purpose is “to decrease haredi [ultra-Orthodox] control of our lives.”

All the recent years of battle at the Western Wall were, therefore, just an excuse to have demonstrations and get free public relations to advance their agenda in the spheres of marriage, Shabbat and kashrut – an agenda that has no connection whatsoever with the Western Wall.

I am not naive. The huge motivation to attain legitimacy for new streams in Judaism, especially at the Western Wall, is clear to me. There is no other place that all Jews look toward as much as the Western Wall. But at what price?

 A VIEW of the Kotel earlier this year. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) A VIEW of the Kotel earlier this year. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

From the day I took on this role, I stand guard at the Western Wall and make every effort to prevent using the Western Wall for the benefit of one movement or another. In all my years in this job, I have been under tremendous pressure in the media and personally – by the zealots in the religious community as well as those in liberal society. 

Both claim that I make it difficult for them to express their unique truth at the Western Wall. I am proud of this. When we come to the Western Wall, we should not demand privileges, but take upon ourselves the shared obligation and responsibility for this holy site and the wholeness of the Jewish nation.

I have never asked a Jew or Jewess to what stream of Judaism they belong. I have always tried to see every Jew the way Hakadosh Baruch Hu sees them – “You are children of the Lord, your God.” Everyone is loved. Everyone is wanted. The Western Wall belongs to every Jew. It does not belong to streams.

The Western Wall is the one place where Jews of all denominations unite around our deepest common denominator – our belonging to Jewish tradition. In my mind, it is similar to a happy family get-together of grandchildren and great-grandchildren at the home of their grandparents. 

Does one grandchild have the right to force his opinion on another? Of course not. But in the home of their grandparents, the descendants will abandon that which separates them from the older generation and will adopt the customs and mannerisms that connect everyone together as one family.

The entire world is open as a place in which to express their uniqueness. At their grandparents’ house – they can abandon that.

I believe that the overwhelming majority of the Jewish nation wants to unite around the Western Wall. The numbers speak for themselves. More than 12 million visitors come to the Western Wall every year, from all Jewish streams. 

The choice of the leaders of the Reform Movement in Israel, for political reasons, to systematically degrade the Western Wall and its devoted employees, and to stir up disputes at the Western Wall Plaza itself, causes tremendous and unnecessary damage to the connection between the nation and the Western Wall. Because of this, it went from being a unifying site to also being a symbol of dispute and zealous wars among Jews.

The Western Wall, the remnant of the Temple, encompasses both the peak and the abyss together. On the one hand, it expresses the nation’s yearning to return to Jerusalem and the great privilege we have to be living at a time when the nation merited returning to its land and country. 

On the other hand, the Western Wall is a reminder of the terrible price we paid when civil war tore Jerusalem apart from the inside. In the times of the Temple as well, different streams of Judaism fought one another at the foot of the Temple Mount. 

Then too, each group was convinced of the righteousness of its path. We all mourn the bitter results of that war to this very day.

In the name of the millions of worshipers and visitors who come to the Western Wall every year, both observant and secular, I denounce the cynical use of our holy site and call to remove from the Western Wall, once and for all, the disgrace of political demonstrations and to leave it as a place of unity and love and not of segmentation and hatred.

The author is the rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites.