Though the international Jewish community has been up in arms over Netanyahu’s recent decision to freeze the Kotel deal with the liberal movements, in Israeli politics it is the High Court that gets the last word.
The stakes are high. Whatever we may think of the government’s moves, the courts have consistently eroded the kedusha of the Kotel. In one of its previous rulings, the justices went so far as to question whether the Kotel actually has the kedusha of a beit haknesset. And at the last hearing, when asked for her ultimate outcome, a liberal plaintiff called to dissemble the mechitza, send all the daveners home, and turn the Kotel into a secular national memorial.
With unmistakable symbolism that only hashgacha pratis can orchestrate, the High Court will hear all the pending Kotel cases the day before Tisha B’av. Though Women For the Wall have thankfully been able to join the case and present the stance of the frum community, one critical voice has been squelched – the voice of the Chief Rabbinate.
The Rabbinate is the ultimate authority in the Israeli system on all religious issues and the Chief Rabbis have opposed the deal from the start. However, the Attorney General Amichai Mandelblitt (and incidentally the architect of the deal) has prevented the Chief Rabbis from presenting their opinion to the court. Traditionally, all government agencies are supposed to present a united front with joint representation.
Thanks to the efforts of several organizations, the Rabbanut has finally been allowed to submit a written brief, to be included in the government’s response. It was given all of four days to draft it. Anyone familiar with such work knows it takes weeks.
But that’s not enough. This week we petitioned yet again for the Rabbanut to have independent court representation, so that the Chief Rabbis’ position will be heard loud and clear. And with Israel facing additional issues of religion and state, their ability to represent and defend the authentic Torah stance in this case will have repercussions for future cases as well.
As the Rabbanut defends the kedusha of the Kotel on behalf of all of us, it is imperative for the frum community to band together and support the Chief Rabbis. With the Reform running an international media campaign, we cannot afford to remain silent.
Our ability to daven at the Kotel in the future depends on our actions today.
What you can do:
If your women’s group, camp, or family will be in Eretz Israel on Rosh Chodesh Av (Monday, July 24) please join us for a respectful tefila at the Kotel at 7 am.
Invite a speaker to your community to educate its members on the issue.
Donate to cover legal costs.
Leah Aharoni is the co-founder of Women for the Wall, a grassroots group dedicated to preserving the tradition at the Kotel in the spirit of Jewish unity. She can be reached at email@example.com.