Rav Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Rav of the Kosel and Holy Sites, has come out against mixed ceremonies held at the Kosel for new immigrants by the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Rav Rabinowitz expressed his opposition to holding ceremonies other than “tefilla events” at the Kosel, stressing the importance of the site regarding the Jewish People’s past, present and future. The comments were included in the rav’s letter to the Jewish Agency, referring to a ceremony that was to have been held this week for hundreds of recent olim chadashim (immigrants). The ceremony was to have taken place on Wednesday (October 14th) in the rear plaza, where the men and women are not separated, with the rav pointing out that having a mixed event at the site is “contrary to Jewish values”.
The rav acknowledged the significance of the ceremony, seeking to daven for the new immigrants and their success in their new lives, but explained the intended character of the event is unsuited for the Kosel and its adjoining plaza.
Etrog reports Jewish Agency officials were shocked, explaining this is an affront to the immigrants, who abandoned their former lives, left everything behind to begin a new life in Israel. Jewish Agency officials told the media that this is in fact a most appropriate venue for such an event, to warmly receive our new immigrants and their families, to shower them with good wishes and blessings.
MK (Meretz) Nitzan Horowitz was among the vocal opponents from the political community, who stated “we cannot permit the Kosel to become the property of he fanatical stream of Judaism”. Opposition and anger was also voiced by members of the Jewish Agency Board of Directors, many affiliated with the Reform and Conservative Movements. They accuse Rav Rabinowitz of overstepping his authority.
It appears the members of the Jewish Agency board who reject the rabbi’s decision plan to turn to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and if he does not deliver satisfaction, they may take “legal action” which will likely manifest itself in the form of a petition to the Supreme Court. They are confident the rabbi’s ruling will not stand the test of the judicial system.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)