January 24, 2010
As Yizhar Hess points out in Yediot Acharonot, the time has come to free the Western Wall and prevent it from being taken over by the Orthodox.
Do you want to know how the Orthodox establishment in Israel bolsters its status? How it succeeds in creating institutions and functions, which are seemingly for the benefit of the public but which in practice deepen the systematic exclusion of non-Orthodox trends in Judaism and the alienation of world Jewry? The Kotel is a good example. More than 20 million shekels were given to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation in the course of one year, while the Masorati movement must provide all of its own equipment - Torah scrolls, Siddurs, and ushers - in order to enjoy a few hours a day in a certain section - I almost wrote “second-class section” - of the Western Wall.
We will continue to struggle for the Western Wall. Last Hanukkah the Masorati movement, along with other groups concerned with the growing extremism in Jerusalem, organized a candle lighting ceremony (mixed, Heaven forbid!) in the Kotel Plaza. Rabbi Gil Nativ, a Masorti rabbi who was among the paratroopers who freed the Kotel during the Six Day War, was honored with lighting one of the candles. When he concluded, he said that he well remembers the day the Kotel was liberated in 1967. Today, 42 years later, there is need to return the Kotel to all of the Jewish people. The Kotel needs to be liberated a second time.