Rabbi compares Jewish Agency to rioters

By Jessica Elgot, October 14, 2009
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Western Wall: Jewish Agency will no longer hold ceremonies for new immigrants here

Western Wall: Jewish Agency will no longer hold ceremonies for new immigrants here

The rabbi in the centre of the row over gender segregation at the Western Wall has compared the Jewish Agency to the Jerusalem rioters.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, has previously demanded more stringent gender segregation at the Western Wall, causing the Jewish Agency to halt all ceremonies for new olim at the Kotel.

The head of immigration and absorption at the Jewish Agency, Paula Edelstein, refused to segregate men and women during the ceremony, and the organisation will now hold the presentation at its own headquarters in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Rabinovitch said of the Jewish Agency: "I see no difference between them and the radical Muslims who claimed that Israel was digging up Temple Mount and started rioting. Those [people] are setting fire to the Temple Mount and these [people] are setting fire to our internal home."

The Western Wall rabbi added: “This has nothing to do with religion or a world view. No one wants to pray with a speech by a minister, rabbi or public figure in the background. This disrupts the activity at the Wall."

But he confirmed that he was in talks with Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

Last updated: 11:31am, October 15 2009