Kotel 1917

This image from 1917 clearly shows men and women at the Wall together. We have moved backwards from then.

Twenty one members of my Or Chadash family have departed from Israel in the last twenty four hours after spending ten days touring the Holy Land from north to south. We were inspired and uplifted and our spiritual centers renewed as we built bridges between our souls and the soul of Israel.

The Prime Minister had the gall a few years ago to come to the United States and say to the American people that he “speaks for all Jews.” This false proclamation became even more false today as he rejected the law passed by
the Knesset, affirmed by the Supreme Court of Israel, to establish an egalitarian space at the Western Wall available for mixed gender groups of liberal Jews like us. He sold all of us out to appease his Haredi coalition partners.

Almost three decades ago I wrote a letter to another Prime Minister about finding a place for liberal Jews in Israel to pray at the holiest place for Jews worldwide. His office responded that that responsibility was the province of the Ministry of Religion. He at least made no claim to speak for twelve million Jews around the world!

Many of us will again raise our voices in protest. Israel is a place of refuge for all Jews. Synagogues are a place of spiritual refuge and inspiration for any Jew. The Wall should be a place where any Jew of any variety can find their special synagogue refuge and inspiration with other like-minded seekers. We will not give up on Israel (though we may give up on this Prime Minister). The Land of Israel is a holy place. The Wall is still a sacred place, even if it is not available the way we would like it.

Netanyahu does not represent me or many of us. I am sure he does not represent many of his own citizens. As Reform Jews, we will continue to fight for equal rights for Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, anyone who is marginalized and diminished by others!

Instead of withdrawing our support, we ought to be giving our support to those organizations that are supporting egalitarian rights in Israel.