Rabbinate Boycotts ‘Mixed’ Knesset Tour of Kosel

Birkas Kohanim at the Kosel last year Pesach. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
Birkas Kohanim at the Kosel. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

The Chief Rabbinate is boycotting a tour of the Kosel area set by the Knesset Interior and Environmental Committee for Tuesday, after MKs invited members of the Reform and Conservative movements to participate. In a letter to the Committee, the Chief Rabbinate said that the issuance of a general invitation to the Chief Rabbis in the same manner as the invitation to Reform and Conservative representatives was a breach of protocol and an insult to Torah.

“As we are taking into consideration the preservation of the holiness at the Kosel, and as the issue is of the utmost importance, it would be proper for the Chief Rabbis to make their views known to the Committee in a private session, instead of among the group of representatives who will be attending this event,” the Rabbinate said in its message to the Committee. “We have stressed that the Chief Rabbis have already reviewed the issue and have established an official position on the matter.”

Invited to the tour, along with representatives of the Rabbinate and of the non-Orthodox groups, were officials of the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Kotel Heritage Fund, the Justice Ministry, the State Attorney’s Office, the Public Security Ministry, Yeshivah Ateret Kohanim, women’s groups and others.

Also invited, but declining to attend, is UTJ’s MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher. “The purpose of the visit, organized by MK David Amsalem, is to prevent the unpleasantness we see at the Kosel from time to time, in which groups conduct provocative and illegal events, via well-funded operations that receive a great deal of media attention,” he said. “Their purpose is to uproot the status quo on religious matters instead of uniting the Jewish people. I see no reason to join in a tour with them. It would be like attending a memorial for the slain Yitzchak Rabin and holding a poster of his murderer, Yigal Amir,” MK Rabbi Asher told Israel Radio.

In its statement, the Rabbinate added that “the Chief Rabbis will be happy to present their ideas on the Kosel issue before the Committee, at a meeting to be held at the Rabbinate.”