A number of prominent Kosel mispallalim met with police and others involved in preparing for next month’s scheduled visit to Israel by Pope Benedict XVI. They explained to senior police commanders that a papal visit to the Kosel at 8 AM would significantly compromise access to the Kosel for those who regularly daven neitz for they realize the area will be shut down as a sterile security area hours ahead of the pope’s arrival. In addition they explained that on Monday there is Kriyas HaTorah and this is generally accompanied by bar mitzvahs. As such, they ask that the papal visit be pushed off for an hour or two not to interrupt tefilos at the Kosel.
Yisrael Hayom adds that officials who run affairs at the Kosel daily point out that since the liberation of the Kosel in 1967 there have been daily neitz minyanim and a papal visit is davka not a reason to consider interruption these minyanim. They add that 100 families have already registered to hold a bar mitzvah there that morning and an additional 50 can be expected by next month.
Officials also point out that when US President Barak Obama arrived neitz was not canceled and in addition to the reasons cited, it would be a most inappropriate act two days before the nation marks Yom Yerushalayim.
Kosel Rav Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz stated the papal visit cannot take place at the expense of neitz or the bar mitzvos that are set to be held at the Kosel. “The Kosel Plaza may not be closed for even a minute to accommodate the visit” the rav added.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)