Rabbis condemn Reform, Conservative for dividing World Jewry

Coalition for Jewish Values urges Reform and Conservative movements to 'stop dividing Jewish People'.

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Ezrat Yisrael section of Wall
Ezrat Yisrael section of Wall
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing nearly 200 North American halakha-observant rabbis, today called upon the Reform and Conservative movements to "stop dividing the Jewish People" with what it termed a "disinformation campaign" regarding Israel's Western Wall.

The American liberal groups had launched a billboard and poster campaign across Israel Thursday featuring the slogan "Free the Western Wall -- Enough of Charedi Control!" However, haredi-religious Jews, often called "ultra-Orthodox," are only a minority of Israel's traditional Jews and are far from the only sector in Israel that wish to retain the status quo at the Wall.

According to the CJV, the American-funded posters, in addition to ignoring Religious Zionist Israelis, also disenfranchise all traditional Israeli Jews, including refugees from countries like Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco, as well as Jews from ancient communities in Italy, Greece, India and elsewhere. None of these are considered "haredi" or "ultra-Orthodox," yet all strictly observe the custom of dividing men and women during prayer.

"This is a disinformation campaign intended to calumny other Jews," said Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Director of the CJV. "It doesn't merely demonize the haredim, it insults all Jews who do not follow Reform's lead in the abandonment of classical Jewish practice."

According to the CJV, this is but one element of an international effort to misrepresent Israel's commitment to democracy and religious freedom. In 2013 the Israeli government built an area (see photo) at the Wall called "Ezrat Yisrael" to facilitate alternative prayers of all kinds at the Western Wall. The American Reform and Conservative movements claim this section as their own, yet have never filled it.

Mixed gender prayer section at Kotel during construction (Jonathan Sindel, Flash 90)

"On July 11, the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, Ezrat Yisrael stood entirely empty while the traditional section was filled to capacity," said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the CJV. "The American movements know that over 99.9% of Jewish prayers said in Israel accord with traditional practice. They are demanding an 'equal' space for political reasons, while falsely claiming that current facilities for their use are inadequate and discriminatory."

Anat Hoffman, Director of Women of the Wall and the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform movement, filmed a video on July 4 decrying Ezrat Yisrael as "a second-rate platform for second-rate Jews." During the video, funded by the Reform movement in Israel, she stands only in a small section designed for people to approach and touch the Wall itself without disturbing the archaeological site beneath, while never showing the full expanse of Ezrat Yisrael.

"She and the Reform movement knowingly exploit the fact that most American Jews have not come to Israel to see the truth for themselves," concluded Rabbi Menken. "They should stop this dishonest effort to divide the Jewish People. They should be ashamed."

The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), directed by prominent rabbinic leaders and representing hundreds of rabbis across North America, articulates an authentic Jewish perspective on current events, and promotes Jewish values through writing and teaching derived from traditional Jewish thought.








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