Controversy Surrounding Churva Shul

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When the Churva Shul in Jerusalem’s Old City was being rededicated in March of this year, there was a bit of a political storm from the PA (Palestinian Authority), accusing Israel of trying to undermine the status quo in the Old City.

Now that the ancient shul is operating, restored to its former glory, a storm of a different nature is underway, from the Israel Center of Pluralism, i.e. Reform Jewry, and others, who insist the shul has been taken over by chareidim.

Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet reported on Thursday that there are complaints that women not meeting modesty requirement are not permitted in and at least one tourist group seeking to enter the newly-renovated shul was delayed for the same reason.

The Rova Development Company and Keren Moreshet HaKotel are responsible for the running and maintaining the shul, both being quasi public organizations. The state has categorized the shul a national heritage site, prompting the complaints, explaining that in addition to being a shul, it is a tourist site.

Jerusalem Councilwoman Rachel Azarya feels that the shul which was established hundreds of years ago and represents the battle over the Old City has become the sole property of chareidim, and all others are no longer entitled to benefit from this treasure. “Today there are people sitting there learning Torah, which is a good thing, but the tens of millions of shekels were invested to permit visits and tours”. Groups can come in, by making advanced reservations, and one must pay NIS 25 per person, and one may not see the main hall since people are learning there. She stressed that she too is shomer shabbat, and does not oppose learning, but she opposes the “chareidi take-over”. This is the first and only shul in the Old City charging money for visitors, and they are not even permitted to see the main hall of the shul.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rav of the Kosel and Holy Sites feels that once again, the picture is being distorted. “I am compelled to explain that I do not agree with the facts as they are being presented”.

Israel Radio: what is the situation today?

RR: There is a situation permitting learning as well as permitting visitors and tourists to enter and see the structure. “If politically motivated individuals who seek to destroy Yerushalayim fabricate facts this is the result. There is a limit to everything. If you wish to hear facts, here they are.

“The shul is open to anyone and everyone, including non-Jews, as is the case with other tourist sites in the Old City, and the tour is not five minutes, but 45 minutes so the fee is nothing more than symbolic”.

In short, the rabbi explains one is “not visiting a museum, but an active shul. The complaints are simply another effort to bring politics into the running of holy sites, something that did not occur in the past.” He blames those with a “different agenda and picture as to the future of Yerushalayim and the Old City” as being responsible.

The rabbi added he simply cannot understand how a religious person is capable of airing such accusations when s/he is well aware they are baseless.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


9 COMMENTS

  1. Is the shule allowed to accept donatons from those who daven there?
    If so, let them lower the tourist fee if it’s too high and make up the difference with donations.

  2. thanks to YWN i have all the news i will ever need in one place with no reason to go elsewhere. lately though, i am crying more and more as i read the news. this happens when i realize how much we need the geula, and tremble in fear from the thought of where ‘I’ am holding this very minute should moshiach arrive right now.

  3. last night harav ahron leib shteinmann shlita along with harav nosson tzvi finel shlita, rav simcha kook, rav binyomin elyashiv all visited the churvah shul together, I was there. Rav Binyomin Elyashiv made a siyum hashas and then rav shteinmann spoke. It is the nicest shul i have ever been in. so keep it a shul not a museum.

  4. hello the founders and builders of the churva were all chareidi and rebuilding is not just a structural issue it has to do with the true nature of the shul

  5. I don’t understand the controversy – many churches have restrictions on women (like no shorts and tank tops). Why is it so controversial here? Are the requirements extreme?

  6. If the same people would go to the vatacin they would cover up. If you go to the Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor they would cover up; but before Hashem everything goes. People have no respect; especially for themselves.
    50 years ago even a goy would have better sense than a religious Jew today. What happen to self respect.

  7. from the Israel Center of Pluralism, Reform Jewry, and others, who insist the shul has been taken over by chareidim. as far as i know the Churva Shul was founded by chareidim. not by the reform or some other so called jews that act like joyim. they can go to a church that is up there ally

  8. #6 is correct! Would these people dare to enter the vatican in shorts, or tank tops, or “belly shirts”?
    Would they DARE to visit a mosque in Yerushalayim dressed immodestly?!?!
    If they DID dare, they would not be allowed to enter!
    Why should we have lower standards?
    Why should we let anyone think we will tolerate lower standards?!?