Reuven H. Taff
Reuven H. Taff

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu

When I heard that you and your Cabinet suspended a government-approved plan to establish a pluralistic prayer site at the Kotel, I was shocked to hear this news.  The agreement which was negotiated with Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, who led the way to having joint oversight by all streams of Judaism at this new prayer site, is now dead in the water.  The ultra-Orthodox parties again have used their power of suppression of Jews who do not wish to follow their ways.  And you, Mr. Prime Minister, clearly have lost your conscience.  You have once again caved in to the Orthodox establishment and many Jews in the Diaspora say that you do this for one reason and one reason only:  To maintain your power.  If that is the case, then I must say, “Shame on You!”

Well Mr. Prime Minister, while I don’t speak for all the Jews of the world, I can tell you that your actions affect every Jew in the world.  While so many of us who live in the Diaspora have fought valiantly to defend Israel against those who continuously advocate for boycotting, divesting and sanctioning companies doing business with Israel, you have slapped us in the face.  While we are on the front lines in our communities and on the college campuses defending Israel and fighting against those who wish to delegitimize the Jewish state, you have chosen to delegitimize the non-Orthodox Jews of the world with your blatant disregard of our basic rights.  Your actions say to us that “Israel doesn’t care about you.”  Your actions say to us that all you care about is placating the Orthodox parties in your coalition government and keeping your job.

Mr. Prime Minister, I know that you are a student of history.  You may recall that in the Talmud there is no mention of a Mechitza.  Rather, there is a discussion of the divider known as the Tiqqun Gadol, “great institution”) at the Sukkot festivities in the Jerusalem Temple. Rabbi Abba Arika (known as Rav) explains that the divider originated with a statement of the prophet Zechariah regarding the mourning following the war between Gog and Magog:

“…On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.  The land will mourn, each family by itself, with their wives by themselves: the family of the house of David and their wives, the family of the house of Nathan and their wives, the family of the house of Levi and their wives, the family of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the families and their wives…”  (Zechariah 12:11-14)

Mr. Prime Minister, I am saddened to say that your actions and the actions of your government, unless they are rescinded, will perpetuate another kind of war.  A war that will have Jews mourning a war of Sinat Chinam which as you know was the cause of the destruction of our Holy Temple.

I urge you Mr. Prime Minister to do the right thing.  As the leader of the People of Israel, please stand up to those religious authorities who should have no right to legislate where and how men and women should be able to pray to the Almighty.  I pray that you will find your conscience.

About the Author
Reuven Taff has spent 50 years serving Jewish communities. For 25 years, he was the rabbi and spiritual leader of Mosaic Law Congregation in Sacramento, California, now serving as Rabbi Emeritus. As a Hazzan and Jewish Educator, he served as Cantor and Educational Director at Beth El Congregation in Phoenix, Arizona and Headmaster of Gesher Jewish Day School of Northern Virginia. In addition to his blog on Times of Israel, his opinion pieces have been published in The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento News and Review, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Algemeiner, The Jerusalem Post, The Jewish Forward and other publications. He can be contacted at
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