Kotel Crisis

Last Saturday night, non-Orthodox worshipers were commemorating Tisha B’Av with prayers in the egalitarian section of the Kotel when they were disrupted by a group of extremists. Tuesday’s email filled you in on the situation.

This Kotel crisis neatly threaded together the themes of a few of my recent Friday articles.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about perspective and our society’s inability to civilly dialogue. From the perspective of the extremists from the group calling itself the Joint Committee for Preserving the Holiness of the Western Wall, the egalitarian worshipers were desecrating God’s name by praying together without a physical barrier between the men and the women. By interrupting the prayers, they would argue, they were doing God’s Holy work. While the Orthodox and non-Orthodox view egalitarianism differently, most agree that the extremist behavior was totally inappropriate.

Last week I wrote about the pluralistic nature of our community. Within moments of sending out Tuesday’s update, I received a call from one of our local Orthodox rabbis. He expressed his anguish and asked what type of statement could he offer to console our community. “This behavior would not be tolerated here,” he said.

Five weeks ago, I wrote about the possible policy changes that we may see with Israel’s new government. After this incident, the Foreign Minister said, “The Kotel belongs to every stream of Judaism and it will be a place where every Jew feels at home.” I do not believe that we’ve heard the end of this story, and I will not be surprised if we don’t ultimately see an official policy change. Let’s stay tuned.

The other big news this week was that Ben & Jerry’s “will end sales of our ice cream in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Early next week, I will consolidate all the important ramifications of this decision, from the probable lawsuits to the domestic boycotts. We haven’t heard the last of this story either.

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