Woman prays at Kotel in winter
Woman prays at Kotel in winterHadas Parus / Flash 90

Perhaps I am not the right person to write these lines. Maybe this text should have been written by one of you, dear brothers and sisters, living overseas. Maybe, someone who lives abroad, who feels every day the hostility, the anti-Semitism, the cold. And I am here, in sunny Jerusalem, a short drive from the holy Western Wall. So how can I allow myself to talk about the cold West?

So I will start with a quote from Rabbi Reuvane on Twitter:

Our community - American Jewish parents, schools, synagogues, & org’s - have failed. We & our children are virtually all illiterate. I mean that literally. Most of us don’t understand Hebrew or any Jewish language. We lack basic familiarity w/ our history & the Jewish bookshelf. Blaming “gatekeeping,” or Israel, or anything of the sort completely misses the fundamental issue. We are an illiterate & largely assimilated community trying to blindly perpetuate a rich, complex, & vast culture/ID/tradition. Our community simply doesn’t have the tools to do it.

And this was the reply he obtained from someone with the username As_Always:

This is a very depressing and sobering take. There is only one place in the world where all of these things are in the air & in the water - Israel. If you live anywhere outside of Israel and your identity is important to you - some more awareness and especially effort are needed.

There is one place in the world where Judaism is in the air and in the water. There is one place in the world where you wake up in the morning with Hebrew on your lips. There is one place in the world where the holidays are the Jewish holidays, where a synagogue exists on each street corner, and where each family event is celebrated according to Jewish tradition. There is one place in the world where Jewish life is natural and is assimilated into the structure of the state and into the DNA of us all.

There is one place in the world to which our eyes are lifted, and from which we all draw the strength to continue our lives.

And this place is centered on Jerusalem. And Jerusalem is centered on the Western Wall.

And even if we moved very far away, and even if we lost our way back, and perhaps our clothes have become encrusted with mud, and maybe due to the pressures of work we have forgotten our names and our identities - but we have not forgotten Jerusalem.

Not in New York, or Chicago, or Berlin, or Addis Ababa. The name of Jerusalem was ever on our lips – as we continued to long for Zion.

And today, by flying a few hours, any Jew can come home, and feel their Judaism in the air and in the water – and reconnect with the holy Torah of all his predecessors.

Therefore, it is in our common interest, no matter how far we have strayed, to keep our holy places, to preserve our holy embers, to safeguard the heart of our holy nation. Because even if our hand sometimes gets a little dirty or our leg is slightly injured, we must ensure our heart is meticulously protected, because the heart pumps blood around the whole body, and the Western Wall is what pumps faith into all of us Jews, throughout the Diaspora, whatever the distance, all over the world.

And due to this common interest, and in the name of all previous generations, and in the name of the One who uttered and the world came into being and Who loves us all, I would like to make an important request from you.

The Western Wall is a Jewish site. It is a holy site. It is a place where we pray for our yearning to be fulfilled, the same yearning we have had for two thousand years ­– for Geula, our Redemption. It is the foundation of our faith, and it is what keeps us strong.

This is where our tradition is preserved, the tradition Moshe Rabbeinu received at Sinai, and handed over to Joshua, and Joshua to the Elders, and the Elders to the prophets, and the prophets to the Men of the Great Assembly, and they passed it on to the Tannaim, who transmitted it to the Amoraim, then to the Saburim, then the Geonim, and then the Rishonim, the Acharonim, and up until the rabbis of our own generation.

Our tradition is great, wonderful, united, and well defined. And although some of us have drifted away, and some of us were born faraway, and some of us were born ignorant of our heritage, here, at the Western Wall, this tradition is preserved. As our mothers and grandmothers prayed and as they wept over the sorrow of the Destruction, so we pray today, at the same place, in the same language, with the same holy prayers, and with the same modesty, with women and men separated.

Like a quiet beauty spot without the noise and confusion of modern life – here at the Western Wall, the holiness is preserved, and all this noise ceases to exist. The Western Wall is a place of tranquility and joy, a place of communicating with G-d.

But a group has come and called to shatter this reality. "Separation between men and women is not allowed in the public space," states decisively one of the WOW leaders. Or, in other words: Your tradition is forbidden, and I have come to re-educate you to cease all your holiness that is prohibited!

Mityavmin (Hellenists) circa 2020.

WOW comes to the Western Wall once a month, fighting our faith, mocking our beliefs, despising the work of the holy Temple, scorning holiness, trampling the laws of modesty, fighting against millions of worshippers – men and women, who come there to feel this holiness, that they try to end.

But why? Why does this holiness disturb you? Who asked for this? Who asked you to mock the sanctity of the site? Who asked you to trample My courts?

Perhaps they do not understand what they are doing? Maybe they do not understand what happens without holiness, what happens when the principles of our precious religion are not kept well? Rabbi Reuvene understands this, and surely many readers understand what I am talking about – but that group of women does not understand. They come every Rosh Chodesh to the Western Wall to fight the holiness, Halakha, Jewish law. They come to mock our faith. They come to call the Temple, the place we have dreamed of for two thousand years, "A barbecue"!

They come to destroy the Temple every Rosh Chodesh again and again, with a provocative prayer service forbidden according the third of the Ten Commandments of the holy Torah.

Please, do not support this, do not deepen the rift, do not encourage this confusion, do not be part of the desecration! Do not share in the destruction!

Here from Jerusalem, our hands are outstretched asking for help. We are one nation. If we work together, to deepen the Jewish identity of each one of us, to safeguard our heart, to maintain the flow of blood to our entire nation, the whole body, and to preserve the sanctity of this holy place – we will all benefit. The Western Wall is ours. We can maintain our holiness and faith, and also the sacred hope for redemption, for a happy and exalted future, our shared hope. Let us keep this hope alive together.

More than 3,000 years ago it was Moses who recited "מי לה' אלי", "Who is with God, come to me" in front of the people who worshiped the golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai. More than 2,500 years ago it was Matityahu who recited "מי לה' אלי", "Who is with God, come to me", and removed the Greek statues from the holy Temple. And today we, the Jews of the Land of Israel, call on the Jews of the world: "מי לה' אלי", "Who is with God, come to me".

Let us come and reconnect ourselves to our Jewish sources, to our true traditions, to the tradition as it was transmitted from father to son. With all its laws. With all its sanctity. With all its beauty. With the immense wisdom that lies within it – the wisdom which belongs to all of us.

Come and connect back to the sanctuary.

Come and connect back to the Western Wall, with its sanctity, and according to its sacred laws, as enacted by Rabbi Meir Yehuda Getz, the bereaved father of the soldier Avner Getz, who gave his life for the liberation of this holy place.

Come and return to the Western Wall with its holiness.

Come and return to the springs of our nation, to the pure water of Judaism, to the clean air of our holy faith.

You are invited. Hashem loves us. Hashem is waiting for us to come home.

Dr. Rina Azoulay.is a computer science lecturer in Jerusalem College of Technology.