“No taxation without representation” This cry originated during the 1700s. It was one of the major causes of the American Revolution by the colonists. Many in the colonies, having no representation in the distant British Parliament, felt that laws it passed affecting them (such as the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act) were illegal and were a denial of their rights as Englishmen.
Today, there are those living in the colonies, now known as the United States of America, who wish to turn this noble sentiment on its head. From their comfortable homes in Florida or Pennsylvania, far from falling rockets, suicide bombers, sky-high taxes and many years of service in the IDF, they seek to change our laws, to dictate how we should live our lives.
Many American Jews complain about the preeminence of the Orthodox in Israel. Much fuss has been made over the question of conversion, and to attempts by non-Orthodox groups to hold organized prayers at the Western Wall.
The recent arrest of Rabbi Dov Haiyun over wedding ceremonies he conducted outside the auspices of state-run Chief Rabbinate caused an outpouring of condemnation from various American groups.
“Bet you didn’t know that performing a non orthdox wedding in Israel is punishable by 2 years in prison?” bleated Rabbi Steven Wernick. (I’m not sure if his un-orthodox spelling was intentional.) Well, Rabbi Haiyun certainly knew; he lives in Israel and chose to break the law. I suspect that the US also has laws and that there are unpleasant consequences if you break them.
It may well be that this particular law is morally wrong and should be repealed. This was undoubtedly the reason Rabbi Haiyun chose to deliberately ignore it and he should be praised for taking a stand at the risk of some personal discomfort. But he lives here; Israel is his country and he is entitled to fight against bad laws in any way he sees fit.
Rabbi Wernick does not live here. As our American friends would say, he does not have a dog in this fight. He is, of course, most welcome to join us and help us with our battles for justice. As a new Oleh he will have full rights and will be able to voice his opinions in our democratic elections.
The Western Wall is another example of attempts by non-Israelis to interfere in the running of our country. Most people accept that you should remove your hat when visiting a church, remove your shoes when visiting a mosque. In a Sikh temple you should cover your head but remove your shoes. If you are unwilling to conform to the custom, don’t visit a church, mosque or temple. Similarly, at the Western Wall, we have certain customs set by the legal guardians of our faith. If you don’t agree with our customs, keep away.
If you don’t like the way our Wall is run, come and live in Israel and work to change the current Orthodox stranglehold. This cannot be done from New Jersey.
By the way, if you thought we Jews are a little divided as to the exact form of our Judaism, look at Christianity! I tried counting the various Christian Denominations according to the Catholic Church Statistics (2016) but gave up after passing 300.