I honestly don’t care. If the Women of the Wall wish to pray with prayer shawls and teffilin, I say let live and let be. There are bound to be practices among my fellow Jews that I don’t necessarily agree with or wish to participate in but honestly, why should it bother me if or how they want to pray?
What does bother me is when my fellow Jews use religious practice as an excuse for violence. What I do care about is how we, as Jews, conduct ourselves towards each other. What I do care about is the face that the people of Israel, as a nation of Jews, show to the world.
This morning, the Women of the Wall joined together in prayer to welcome in the new Jewish month of Sivan. Not only are they allowed to pray at the Western wall because it is an open space to all who wish to worship there, but they also have a court order that gives them full legal permission. Instead of a peaceful, meaningful, spiritual prayer service, they faced clashes with the ultra orthodox who encouraged men women and children to join the gathering under false pretenses to protest the rights of these women to pray at the holy site. The large group of Police and border police put in place in anticipation of a conflict, did not deter the Hareidim from throwing trash at the gathering of women as they attempted to pray, and rocks at their bus as they left the area.
I am ashamed. I am ashamed of the behavior of my bothers. I for one cannot believe that we have fallen this far. It is at this time of year, just before Shavuot, that the Jews finally stood united as one after the exodus from Egypt. K’ish Echad B’Lev Echad. Like one man with one heart we camped around Mt. Sinai to receive the very Torah the Hareidim are claiming to defend. How is it that we can have so much hate in our hearts for our own brothers when it is at this time of year that we as a nation received our true purpose? To have such violence between Jews at the Kotel, a place we waited for 19 years after declaring independence to visit freely, is absolutely abhorrent.
To those who believe it is an acceptable practice to throw trash and rocks at a fellow Jew I say shame on you. Is this really how far we have fallen? Is this what we have been reduced to? Are we no better than the terrorists who stand on our temple mount to stone our brothers while they pray below at the Western Wall? Are we no better than the terrorists who throw rocks at our cars on the way home from work? It hurts to see that we as a nation have reached a level of complete intolerance for our own brothers. If we as a people do not stand, united as one how can we ever expect to overcome our enemies?
When we stand divided we are weak. When we fight amongst ourselves the world stops and takes note. When we behave like animals, like hoodlums, throwing rocks and trash, we invite terror on ourselves.
Whether you agree or disagree with the practices of the Women of the Wall, throwing rocks and trash is absolutely, unequivocally, undeniably, and unconditionally unacceptable. We as a nation must band together and stand united as one if we ever hope to see the rebuilding of the temple on this very spot.