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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Prayer at Kotel, Not Very PC

This was first posted on Israel Blogger

It’s no secret that my views and opinions are far from “politically correct.” And I am 1,000% certain that some people will be awfully angry at what I’m writing. We all know that the secular Left dominates the international media, the Jewish media, the Israeli media etc. If it wasn’t for today’s modern internet and the ability for us bloggers to develop our own independent media, things would be a lot worse.

Of course, people like myself don’t have the readership of the New York Times or the Jerusalem Post, but I’m periodically greeted with:
“Are you really Shiloh Musings?”
Yes, there are people who read blogs.

Now, for the past few years, ever since that group of non-Torah observant women began disturbing the peace and tranquility at the Kotel for their monthly media-fests, I haven’t read what I replied to someone last night. I had gotten a letter from someone who asked for my reaction to the usual anti-establishment accusations that the Israeli Rabbinate is alienating American Jews. This is what I wrote:
“Sorry, but the media and the politicians have it all wrong. There’s a place, the Kotel, which functions as an outdoor synagogue. People come from all over the world, all religions and respect the way it functions. That is except for two hours a month, when a bunch of women garbed in male religious accessories, show up with lots of photographers, and cause a nasty ruckus. After they disturb everybody and get their publicity. They proudly march back home, until their next visit about 29 days later.”
I had no idea of how she’d react, since I don’t really know the person. Also, pretty much everyone who accepts the media’s version would never be open enough to see it in my rather simplistic way. I’m not getting into the obvious right of people to observe how they wish and that it is all between “man/woman and Gd.” My point here is simply about good manners.

These same women have no problem with all of the antisemitic rules forbidding Jews to pray and barely visit the Temple Mount. They are not in favor of religious freedom for all. They just want their monthly publicity. That hypocrisy, of course, is completely ignored by pretty much everyone. They want their rules to rule but don’t support others.

I’ve been going to the Kotel on occasion for almost fifty years. The people who are there 24/7 observe, follow and respect the accepted Torah way, aka Orthodox Judaism. Visitors who don’t live that way, Jews and non-Jews, mostly find that aspect extremely spiritual and uplifting. Most visitors are inspired by the peacefulness of the place. That’s what people come for, to connect to being as close to the location of the Jewish Holy Temple as we can easily get to. Some of us focus our prayers on the Temple Mount, since ascending the Mount isn’t easy.

Just like when you may (if you do) enter a place of worship of another religion, you dress and act respectfully in order not to disturb the peace, one should do the same at the Kotel. Yes, as if it’s another religion, because if you follow different rulings, you have changed things. If you want to be respected, then respect others.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)
Love your neighbor as yourself – Rabbi Akiva said: this is the most important principle in the Torah.
“What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary; now go and learn.” (Shabbat 31a)
When a group brazenly breaks the status quo, like the Women of the Wall, demanding that everyone kowtow to their way of thinking, they are the ones who are going against this basic “Love your neighbor as yourself” principle. If they want to pray differently , there is a different place that already exists near the western plaza. My guess is they reject it, because they know that their followers do not pray 24/7, neither the men nor the women. They fear that if they accept that other location people will publicize how deserted it is most of the time, which proves that they don’t have any real following. It’s all a big publicity stunt.

Yes, I’ve said it. WOW is just a well-funded group to damage the image of the Israeli Rabbinate. Consider it an Israeli J-Street.


Dawn Nussbaum said...

You are 100% right.

Yonathan Gormezano said...

The Government of Israel thinks that giving in to the "Women of the Wall", they will promote Jewish unity and massive support and Alia from thousands of US Reform Jews...

However, Reform Jews are not interested in coming to live in Israel, and most of their leaders support anti-Israel causes. And anyway, since the liberation of Jerusalem in '67, everybody (Jews of all stripes as well as Gentiles) have been welcome to pray to G-d at the Wall, just paying a minimum of respect to age-old tradition.

To bring more Jews to Israel, the Israeli Government should be looking in a totally different direction. Why are the thousands of French Jews, who want to come and live in Israel, faced with artificial bureaucratic obstructions? Their diplomas are not recognised and neither are their driving licences, as if France was some third-world country where diplomas and licenses are obtained through bribery.

My take is that this is not by accident. The same people who want to give Abu Mazen a state (to eliminate holy places, destroy territorial integrity and turn half a million Jews into refugees), and to put women in battlefield tanks (to destroy the IDF from within), want to undermine the status of traditional Judaism, which despite the politics is a huge unifying factor in the country (Apart from a small hard core in North Tel Aviv, most Jews in Israel identify to a varying extent with traditional Jewish values).

What better way to do that than to artificially import Reform Judaism, by bolstering their institutions locally (with no committent that they will come to live in Israel or even support Israel), while at the same time preventing traditional Zionist French Jews to come here in masses.

Think of it, welcoming 200-300 thousand French Jews and settling them in Judea and Samaria will put an end to all talk of a palestinian state, and also reinforce the traditional Jewish roots of this country! Some people do not like that.

Batya Medad said...

Dawn thanks.
YG also American olim have to redi all sorts of things. Inexpensive housing would help.

Mr. Cohen said...

This is another excellent article by Batya Medad!

Just a few minutes ago, I attempted to post
a link to this article on a Liberal Jewish web site,
so they could get an alternative perspective on this issue
-- the perspective of Batya Medad :-)

How a Reform Rabbi Became Orthodox (true story):

Reform Judaism vs. Real Judaism:

Yonathan Gormezano said...

The French Olim have to re-pass their driving test after being in Israel for one year, and they have to sit professional exams in Hebrew, even if they have already practised their profession in France for a number of years. When I was a new immigrant from England in 1984, all I had to do was to produce my UK driving licence and my diploma from Birmingham University. No exams and no driving test. This seems to be a deliberate attempt to keep good Jews from immigrating. As for lowering house prices, this is a no-brainer. Build massively everywhere, except in the Tel Aviv area which is already overcrowded, and help the French Olim to build new population centres in Samaria.

Batya Medad said...

Same from the USA. Teachers with American university degrees, real ones not correspondence courses, have to go through lots of difficulties to get an academic salary from the Ministry of Education.

Yonathan Gormezano said...

Is this only very recently, and do they have to sit exams, or only bring a lot of paperwork? What about driving licences? I never heard that in the past new immigrants had to redo their driving test.
My friend who recently immigrated from France and is a ship's captain with 20 years' experience (who has internationally recognised French-issued certificates to this effect) had to sit theoretical and practical exams in Israel before being allowed to captain a ship. He also had to pass his driving test again, even though he is a veteran and experienced driver.

Mr. Cohen said...

Please go to this web address, and read the 4th comment:


Batya Medad said...

The minute WOW came with cameras and media it was clear it's not in the name of Gd.

Shtrudel said...

Some remarks regarding driver licenses and professional qualifications:

Driver licenses: if an Israeli moves abroad and doesn't renew their license for 2 years they will have to redo their practical exam even if they had a license in their other location. I know because I had to do it. The convertibility of foreign driver licenses is really a matter between governments and where a treaty to that effect exists licenses are convertible. Yes, it's a hassle but it isn't really a big one and you're allowed to use your "native" license for up to a year so there's plenty of time to get it done.

All countries have similar but not necessarily equivalent requirements for specific occupations. A lawyer who is moving from France to Belgium will have to meet Belgian requirements. A medical doctor moving from the UK to Canada will have to meet Canadian requirements. Etc etc etc.

Specifically regarding maritime qualifications (and this is something I know about as I hold several of them): Israel has some of the most stringent maritime qualification systems in place which is why Israeli qualifications are accepted and recognized worldwide! I can visit the BVI's on my American flagged boat (for up to one year) but in order to operate an identical BVI flagged vessel I need a license (not really because I have the Israeli license). Having said that, foreign maritime professionals serve with Israeli international shipping companies and even on Israeli flagged vessels so, obviously, it's not such a big deal.

So yes, these things are a hassle and bureaucratic hurdles need to be removed as far as possible but the requirements are there for a good reason! So let's review some issues:

1) I hope that making sure that the recipient of a driver's license is actually capable of driving a car in Israel is self-evident. The main issue with taking the exam in Israel is that you have to show up in a special car. That means you have to find a driving teacher willing to take you on as a client. The problem here is that they are issued a limited number of exam slots so they're not inclined to take on a customer who won't be very profitable. The solution here is to have the DMV issue the required exam slot(s) directly to the new immigrant.

2) Recognition of academic credentials for the purposes of academic bonuses to salary: the law should be that if the institution which granted the degree was at the time internationally accredited the credentials should be recognized. No "if" or "but"! That way some paper pushing clerk won't be able to give the immigrant a hard time.

3) Recognition of professional credentials (e.g. lawyers, doctors, ship's captains etc): there shouldn't be special treatment of new immigrants' professional credentials but there should be special (speedy) examinations to make sure they meet the Israeli requirements. There's absolutely no excuse for delaying the examination of such people on the basis of "we only have annual exams" or some such silliness...

Batya Medad said...

Thanks for the explanation.