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February 17, 2016 4:27 pm

All Jews Should Have Full Access to the Western Wall

avatar by Nathan Lopes Cardozo

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The Western Wall in Jerusalem. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Western Wall in Jerusalem. Photo: Wikipedia.

I have been following the debate about the Kotel with utter astonishment.

I was not planning to write about this, because by now the issue has sparked so much debate of such low quality that it has embarrassed Judaism, the Jewish people and the Kotel itself. But since many readers have been asking what my thoughts are, allow me to add my two cents.

I cannot help but believe that all parties have grossly blundered: the Orthodox, by insisting on inflexible halachic standards, thereby impeding every possible solution to this problem; the non-Orthodox parties, as well as the multi-denominational Women of the Wall, by not taking the opportunity to achieve a real breakthrough — they’ve only compounded the problem of separation; and the government, by lacking the wisdom to rise above all these battling parties.

It is Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein and Rabbi Daniel Bouskila who hit the nail on the head. Rabbi Adlerstein made the correct observation that by adding still another separate section, we have now erected an even larger psychological mechitza (barrier) dividing millions of our people.

We are not even able to maintain enough unity to preserve one single place in the entire world where we can come together and express our Jewishness in prayer without any discord.

Rabbi Bouskila made an even more important point. The Kotel was never a synagogue, nor should it ever become one. It is a place where people can pray, be spiritual, and meditate.

It should not have minyanim, synagogue services or bar mitzvah celebrations; nor should it be a commercial tourist attraction.

No denomination should have control over it, and it should have no barriers separating people. It must be designated as a place where people can touch Heaven and experience a feeling of true holiness.

This so-called “landmark decision” is in reality a run-of-the-mill tragedy. Nothing to be proud of.

Just to clarify: I see no halachic problem with women wearing tallitot and tefillin, or reading from the Torah. In fact, I keep wondering whether the time has come to obligate women as much as men in the observance of all the commandments. But the Kotel is not the place where this should be played out.

Items such as a tallit, tefillin, or Sefer Torah do not belong at the Kotel. They belong in the synagogue. People should come to the Kotel, baring their souls and pouring out their hearts in prayer before the Lord of the Universe.

Next in line will be the Jews for Jesus. They will also claim their separate place at the Kotel, and who knows what they will bring?

I wonder whether perhaps the time has come to have the Kotel closed to the public until we get our act together.

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  • Louis Dumou

    The Dome of the Rock (or the adjacent Dome of the Chain) stands directly over the site of the Holy of Holies of both Solomon’s Temple and Herod’s Temple. That being the case, how did the pesky Jews dig under the Muslim Dome of the Rock and build Solomon’s Temple and Herod’s Temple? And they did this while never being detected by the Arab Muslims! Man are those Jewish people tricky or what? Results: Muslim Arabs occupy the Jewish homeland and these Muslims must end their occupation! Join Moussa Abu Marzouk, Mohammed Naser and Izzat Risheq in returning to Egypt and Jordan leaving the entire Jewish sacred homeland. Inshallah

  • Pam Buckroyd

    Good article … except for the uninformed comment about “Jews for Jesus”. Jewish people who serve the G-d of Israel, and believe that the Messiah promised in the Tenach has come (as a sacrifice lamb) and will return (as the Lion of Judah) have been at the Kotel for years! Messianic Jews serve in the IDF, observe Torah and halakha, participate in the life of the Jewish community, pass on Jewish traditions to their children, support the nation of Israel, fight BDS, and interact on behalf of Israel with the non-Jewish community.

  • Mickey Oberman

    “All Jews Should Have Full Access to the Western Wall”


    • Agree. I has been Hard Enough just to maintain Israel and ALL Jews must have full access. Even to Dome of ROCK but thats later

  • I agree that the Kotel belongs to all jews and that form of separetion will bring no good will and insures psycological damage for all.

    • I usually agree with the conservative part of Israel but Why would Anyone deny Any Jew access with ALL the Trouble of holding Israel Strong!? Someone tell them in the Knesset that it is for the good of the State and if they cannot see that I question their Understanding of anything. (Though usually I agree completely)

  • Women of the Wall are Orthodox Jews and Israelis. They have almost nothing in common with terminally assimilated, far left American Jewish feminists who don’t know an alef from a bet and don’t want to.
    These leftist feminists have only the shallowest, most ideologically-driven link with Women of the Wall, based on political correctness.

  • David Hoffman

    The leaders of the Women of the Wall made it very clear in their public statements that the intended recipient of their prayers was not the Lord of the Universe, but rather the male Orthodox worshippers across the mehitza, that they might thereby be made to feel uncomfortable. The message being delivered was not “In my distress I call upon You, my Rock and my Redeemer.” It was “We’re here; get used to it!” To claim that the problem could have been solved with a little more flexibility and wisdom on everyone’s part in this circumstance is not realistic.

  • stevenl

    All Jews Should Have Full Access to the Western Wall. Obviously. Male chauvinists want to control others!

  • Lake Brown

    We are all Charlie Hebdo.

    In 1970 my wife(to be)and I interviewed in Haifa to be placed on a Kibbutz. The interviewer thought he had the perfect placement for us, Kibbutz HaMa’apil. He described it as an atheist, very socialist kibbutz. Was he ever right on target. While we were at HaMa’apil a wedding was held off the kibbutz because Rabbi’s were not allowed on site. The wedding reception took place on the kibbutz. We grew to love HaMa’apil during our 2 1/2 month stay. Apparently the feeling was mutual as they asked us to stay and become members.

    Question, would Kibbutz HaMa’apil members be welcomed at the Western Wall?

    • Daniel Silagi

      I would hope they would.

  • Sol

    Rabbi ! Let Jews be Jews at the wall! Time to stop arguing over what is halachically pure or just. When terrorist kill or maim a Jew, they care not what denomination or gender they are! All we have is each other! When the world is against us, should we restrict & reject each other. Throughout the ages, and even more so presently, since we all die equally as Jews, shouldn’t we live peacefully as Jews? The Pope can pray at the Kotel, but we want to inhibit Jews equal access to it? It is not a synagogue? With due respect, Rabbi, your idea of not reading Torah or having minyanim at the wall is laughable, what better place to have these?

  • The idea of men and women praying together is a deliberate imitation of non-Jewish customs, and the Jews who want to pray that way at the Kotel are apostates and troublemakers.

    Their attitude towards authentic Judaism is:
    “We don’t know and we don’t care;
    we don’t know and we don’t want to know.”

    They should be banned from Kotel and from Jerusalem and permanently expelled from Israel.

    Other people who should be permanently expelled from Israel include: Muslims, Jews for Jesus, homosexuals, lesbians.

    Next after them are the fakers who deceptively pretend to be Orthodox; but they abuse their wives, or cheat, steal, and commit unethical business practices. They too must be expelled from Israel.

    • Daniel Silagi

      Just who, “Mr. Cohen,” is the arbiter of who is and who is not authentically Jewish?

      I’d like to have a hands-on discussion with you about that, a-hole.

  • Robert

    No minyans at the Kotel? What’s next, banning them at athletic arenas? At restaurants? Restricting religious practice to only synagogues? With each new published piece, the author keeps going farther and farther away from tradition that has kept Judaism alive since the middle ages.

    All Jews had and still have access to the Kotel… access according the Jewish law that has kept Judaism alive and distinct from non-Jewish ways of life. Non orthodox practice such as egalitarian ritual has simply failed to help Judaism, and may actually undermine it. The author refuses to accept law such as kol isha and mechitza as normative, even though they have been part of that same Jewish law. He needs to keep his preference for non-Jewish practices to himself and in his home and other private places, less he infect G-d fearing, Torah observant Jews with his apikorsus.