Letters: June 26, 2017: Government decision on Western Wall

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
More readers react to government decision on Western Wall
With regard to “Haredi leaders: Don’t sit in US and interfere with religious issues here” (June 27), you report that “[United Torah Judaism MK Moshe] Gafni said that UTJ and Shas did not seek to pass legislation, make government decisions or take other actions against progressive Jews, but would immediately file legislation to circumvent any change to the status quo on religion and state...”
I politely refer him to YouTube and what might be the first footage taken of the Western Wall, filmed by a Jewish gentleman named David Perlov in 1911.
When one talks about a “status quo,” one should consider the usual and customary practice at that time – women and men praying together. That, to me, should be the status quo, not what is evident today at the Kotel.
Often, issues arise in Israel that annoy our Jewish brethren abroad. Today it is the issue of the Western Wall, with one defined stream of the Jewish people up in arms, demanding to be heard. Yesterday, thousands representing an opposing stream of our Jewish people demonstrated in the US against Israel and the mobilization of haredim as soldiers.
It is probably weird to put the two groups in one category, but the truth is that the Jewish people encompass a huge range of beliefs and emotions. Each stream feels that it represents the “real” Jewish world. But every stream of Jews abroad, when confronted with what is seen as unfair treatment, reacts in the same manner – with calls to stop giving support to Israel.
We can cover our eyes, but the antisemitic winds will continue to blow, gathering speed and strength. Today, as opposed to 70 ago, every Jew, wherever he may be, has an ironclad insurance policy – somewhere to go. It might sound extreme and hopefully it will never happen, but history tells us otherwise.
World Jewry, whatever your gripes, supporting Israel is about your security as much as it is about mine. To my thinking, all Jews, wherever they might be, whatever their complaints, have a personal duty to contribute to this, the ultimate insurance policy.
By not supporting Israel, you are not punishing it – you are punishing yourself.
Regarding “Will Kotel fiasco mark the breaking point?” (Analysis, June 26), it is totally beyond ridiculous for you to call this issue a possible “breaking point” between Israel and the Diaspora. The Diaspora has existed for 2,000 years, and its attachment to Israel has been reaffirmed more than two dozen times each day since then in synagogues, at meals, at weddings, at funerals and at everything in between.
In no way whatsoever has this link between the Jewish people and the Jewish homeland ever depended on an issue such as the one discussed here – or any other issue.
Different positions should never give rise to notions of a “breaking point.” Tensions between political opportunism and a lack of attachment to tradition can be discussed without recourse to such inflammatory language.
One wonders what steam of the Diaspora is connected to Israel by such a slender thread? RAFI BEZALEL Jerusalem Virtually all the complaints miss the bigger problem – that the haredi parties have gotten the coalition to sign onto legislation to place all conversions under the aegis of the Chief Rabbinate.
Conversion affects not only Jews of the Diaspora, but hundreds of thousands of Jews – Russians and others – who live here in Israel. While the coalition might ignore Reform and Conservative Jews because they are politically powerless here, voters affected by conversion issues form a large bloc and will not forget Sunday’s vote.
There are approximately 300,000 Israelis who are not halachically Jewish and who, when they want to marry each other or a “kosher” Israeli Jew, have to do so outside the country.
If the woman is not halachically Jewish, the couple’s children will have that status, too.
By barring the way toward a more liberal manner of conversion, the Chief Rabbinate is increasing the number of Israelis who are not halachically Jewish rather than decreasing their number.
In addition to the conversion issue, there must be civil marriage in Israel for those who cannot marry because of the rules of the Chief Rabbinate or because they simply do not wish to be married by one of its representatives. To force couples to leave the country in order to get married – and at their own expense, something that should be part of a government’s responsibility – is simply outrageous.
These two issues primarily affect those of us living here and should be the focal point of protests by both Israelis and our fellow Jews in the Diaspora. A mixed-prayer area at the Kotel is an issue that affects only a small number of Israelis.
The writer is a Masorti rabbi.
It’s amazing that we want the rest of the world to respect us when we can’t respect our own religion.
People can walk into an emergency room and trust everything thrust at them from people they never met. But when it comes to our religion, there are sects with new ideas that, with all due respect, remain quite unfamiliar with authentic Jewish law. They insist that they know better than the established rules and laws, and that they have a God-ordained right to change His rules.
I would love to see someone talk to their surgeon the way they talk about aspects of our religion.
After 2,000 years, God has given us back the Land of Israel.
That works for me. I am honored to be living in a time of miracles, when I can hop in a car and take my wife and kids to pray next to God’s Holy Temple.
Let’s work together to see that it is speedily rebuilt in our days – for all of us. As God Himself wrote: “Because My House is a house of prayer for all nations.”
With regard to Yaakov Katz’s brilliant “A shameful day for the Jewish state” (Analysis, June 26), it was a shameful day indeed because of the cowardly and unjustified decisions by the government regarding prayer at the Western Wall and conversions.
Were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a strong and honest leader, he would have called the bluff of the haredi parties. I doubt that these parties, especially Shas, would bring down the government.
More scandalous than Netanyahu, however, is the coalition, in which only two ministers opposed this disgraceful decision.
Bibi, you should have put your foot down, stating that if the haredim want a crisis, you will not be deterred, and should there be elections, you might no longer consider them as eventual partners, with all the consequences this entails.
It was a time to show leadership, not cave in to blackmail.
This only increases the appetite for more provocative decisions.
The so-called leaders of worldwide non-Orthodox Judaism are crying crocodile tears. They have continuously failed to support the many groups of Israelis who have formed congregations for non-Orthodox Jews.
If the talkers from abroad would get behind projects regarding kashrut and burial services, and break the monopoly on the mikvaot and marriages, they would have the ability to bring about many changes.
Of course, aliya would help.
Tel Aviv