Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on July 1, 2018. (Ohad Zwigenberg/Pool)
The long-delayed pluralistic prayer pavilion at Jerusalem’s Western Wall appeared in jeopardy Sunday when Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked became the second minister in less than a week to pull out of a committee tasked with implementing the proposal, and other Likud ministers declined to fill the vacant spots.
After Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev announced last Wednesday that she could not approve work on the prayer pavilion, citing her conscience and “Jewish tradition,” and would step down as the committee chair, Shaked told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that she, too, would also be leaving the ministerial task force, he told Likud ministers Sunday morning.
Speaking at their weekly parley, Netanyahu asked his party’s ministers for a volunteer to head the committee in Regev`s stead but was met with silence, a participant in the meeting told The Times of Israel.
In response, a rankled Netanyahu said: “I will deal with the Western Wall agreement myself.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, September 3, 2017. (Marc Israel Sellem)
Later, speaking at the full cabinet meeting, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who leads the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, urged Netanyahu to reject the plan and consult with Israel’s chief rabbinate on an alternative, Kan news reported.
That left Religious Affairs Minister David Azoulay, also a member of Shas and an opponent of the pluralistic prayer area (who once said Reform Jews aren’t Jewish), as the only remaining minister on the committee.
The original decision to build the pavilion dates back to January 31, 2016, when the government — spurred by decades of high-profile activism by the feminist prayer group Women of the Wall — approved the so-called Western Wall compromise. Painstakingly negotiated since 2012 with leaders of liberal Judaism and other prominent figures, it provided for the construction of a permanent pluralistic area at the site of a currently existing temporary one. Other key aspects of the plan included a single entrance to the area to be shared with the Orthodox gender-segregated prayer plaza, and the establishment of a board of pluralistic Jewry to oversee the mixed-gender area.
But on June 25, 2017, Netanyahu froze the compromise. While killing off the joint entrance and pluralistic governing board, however, he vowed to continue with the construction of a permanent platform.
Archaeological checks close to the platform began in February 2018 by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which is tasked by the government with overseeing new construction. But bureaucratic hurdles remain in the building process, which had been overseen by Regev, the culture minister.
In a possible explanation for Likud ministers’ reluctance to take up the issue, the Likud Central Committee, a powerful decision-making body made up of party activists, published a letter on Sunday backing Regev’s rejection of the committee.
“We support the bold decision of Culture Minister Miri Regev to protect the sanctity of the Western Wall and to not allow the creation of a Reform plaza next to it,” read the disparaging letter signed by over 100 local Likud leaders.
“We stand on your right-hand side in the struggle for the Western Wall,” they said, addressing Regev.
Culture Minister Miri Regev arrives at the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on July 1, 2018. (Ohad Zwigenberg/Pool)
On Wednesday, Regev wrote on Facebook that she could not in good conscience agree to mixed-gender prayer at the Wall.
“In the past months I have been torn,” she said. “My conscience would not let me rest. I could not approve the Western Wall plan in a manner that would upset the status quo. The Reform Movement’s demand to turn the Wall into a place where men and women pray together is unacceptable to me or to Jewish tradition.
“We did not return to our most sacred site in order to disgrace it,” she added.
Regev’s sentiments last week were also in direct contrast to those stated by her in Facebook posts in October 2013. Then, in response to police clashes with Women of the Wall, Regev wrote, “As chairwoman of the committee responsible for allowing every citizen to pray in the place that is holy to him, I will continue to fight for the preparation of the Robinson’s Arch area for mixed prayer… I spoke with the Western Wall rabbi, and we will soon advance the issue of the Women of the Wall.”
Although back in 2016 the initial plan was warmly embraced by liberal and Diaspora Jewry, it was immediately met with controversy as Israeli ultra-Orthodox politicians stepped into the fray and vowed to stop it.
The pluralist section, shaded in blue, will double in size to nearly 10,000 square feet. The Orthodox section, shaded in purple, takes up some 21,500 square feet. The area in back of the Orthodox section is meant for national ceremonies. (JTA)
As a result, Diaspora Jewry took up the cause of the pluralistic platform, which has become a point of increased friction. The ongoing saga quickly reached the High Court, which has since held multiple hearings on the matter.
A remnant of a wall supporting the Second Temple complex destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, the Western Wall has been honored by Jews for thousands of years. It is the holiest place where Jews can pray because of its proximity to the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism, which is administered by the Muslim Waqf and houses Islam’s third-holiest site, the Al-Aqsa mosque, and the Dome of the Rock.
The pluralistic pavilion is located in the Davidson Archaeological Park in an area called Robinson’s Arch. It is out of sight of the current mainstream Orthodox prayer plaza, separated from it by the ramp leading up to the Mughrabi Gate, which is the only entrance for non-Muslims to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
If completed, the new permanent pavilion will greatly enlarge the modest prayer deck which has served liberal Jewry since 2000. Likewise it will replace the larger temporary bleacher-like platform that was put up ahead of the High Holy Days in 2013.
Amanda Borschel-Dan contributed to this report.
We all know that the midterm elections are different this time around. They are usually like “all politics,” namely local. But this time around they’re different. They are all presidential, all about Trump, as most everything is. And for the anti-Trump crowd — I’m talking about the political commentators and “analysts” — any and all things bad are held to be Trump’s fault. This is presumably because they believe that their condemnations of Trump will result in a Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives.
A new book explores how graffiti artists in Beirut skirt limitations on expression to share political criticism in the streets.
A photograph of the book “Drawing Lines” by Tamara Zantout, taken at the launch of the book at Beit Beirut cultural center, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 25, 2018.
BEIRUT — Beirut’s alleyways and streets are peppered in bright, detailed and provocative graffiti. Street artists use the medium, which exists in a legal grey area, to express their identity and give voice to political frustrations.
On Tuesday, San Francisco will become the largest city in the nation to allow noncitizens to vote, and the city has spent $310,000 on a “new registration system” specifically aimed at illegals. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the plan is the first in the state and follows Proposition N, a 2016 ballot measure allowing votes by noncitizens over the age of 18, reside in the city, and have children under age 19.
By the count of the Chronicle, only 49 noncitizens have signed up to vote on Tuesday, which works out to $6,326 for every illegal voter, but there’s more to the story. City officials are worried that voting could expose illegals to ICE, who might come looking and possibly deport somebody. So supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a backer of Proposition N, urged the city to spend $500,000 to warn the illegals.
At first Sabbath service after massacre, shooting survivors are blessed; rabbi says to those who condemned Trump’s visit: ‘No one tells me how to welcome a guest in my own home’
On November 3, 2018, a joint communal Shabbat prayer service at Pittsburgh’s Beth Shalom Conservative synagogue following the massacre a week prior which saw 11 Jewish community members killed. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — A week after an anti-Semitic shooter massacred 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, the community embraced each other in prayer on Saturday.
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.” He sees this trend creating a surge in “xenophobic populism.” Writing in Politico, Katy O’Donnell agrees: “Nationalist parties now have a toehold everywhere from Italy to Finland, raising fears the continent is backpedaling toward the kinds of policies that led to catastrophe in the first half of the 20th century.” Jewish leaders like Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, sense “a very real threat from populist movements across Europe.”
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.”
We’ve been told for a long time that the ceasefire is on the way. It had many names in the past, such as tahdiah, hudna, and most recently—”an arrangement.” On Friday, once again, reports started emerging that an agreement has been reached. Several hours later, southern Israel was hit with a barrage of rockets. What happened?
And He said, “You will not be able to see My face, for No Human Being shall see Me and live.” — Shemot 33:20
Faith is deeper than knowledge. While scientific data is absorbed only in the brain, faith permeates all parts of the human personality. Nothing is untouched, all spiritual limbs quiver, and everything is transformed. It is thus more difficult to acquire faith than knowledge, and faith has a more radical effect on the human being.
A Catholic archbishop recently touched on an unspoken but highly subversive phenomenon: How anti-Christian forces exploit Christian teachings to empower those who seek to dismantle Christian civilization, Muslims being chief among them.
In an interview published last summer by the Italian outlet IlGionarle.it, Catholic Archbishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan said:
The King of Jordan, not some lowly clerk, announced that Jordan will not extend the currently existing leases renting two parcels of land to Israel. One is the so-called Island of Peace in the northern Naharayim area and the other located in the southern Arava, near Tzofar, an agricultural cooperative village (moshav). Jordan was entirely within its rights to decide not to renew the leases