J.J Gross
J.J Gross

The Western Wall crisis: there are no good guys

Israel’s pathetic, corrupt, power-hungry Haredi-controlled Rabbinate is beyond worthless as a constructive and unifying factor in our society.

Having said this, the moribund Reform and Conservative movements in the US are already past rigor mortis, and use their cadaveric spasms to lob press releases slamming Israeli policies with a smidgen of arrogant conditional love thrown in for bad measure.

Nevertheless, it is imperative to create a section at the Wall for mixed, hetero, LGBT prayer. For one thing, it will spare us the endless threatening messages from our evaporating American liberal Jewish sisters. It will also stop our cowardly cabinet from forever quaking in its sandals about the pending ‘breaking point’ between Israel and American liberal Jewry – a Jewry that has long since lost any serious interest in Judaism, let alone Israel. And finally, because such a pluralistic prayer space will most likely remain fallow and forlorn in any case.

Nowadays, Liberal Jews do not flock to their own temples unless it is for a meeting to bash Trump or for a Bernie Sanders worship service. And of the precious few who do attend services, only a tiny percentage ever visit Israel. And those very few who actually do visit Israel on their own, would much rather enjoy the spirited spectacle at the Kotel proper than partake in a desultory service of rainbow-clad misfits singing ‘Lo yisa goy el goy herev’ from transliterated crib sheets.

What’s more most liberal American Jews, and the religious organizations that claim to speak on their behalf, are ambivalent at best about Israel’s right to the Kotel; they attach no spiritual or historic importance to the Temple past or future – which is, after all, what the Kotel represents – and are clearly weighted in opposition to any Israeli rights within the Old City of Jerusalem. Hence their ire over the absence of a pluralistic prayer space rings hollow, and one suspects it is merely another cudgel in their ongoing efforts to bludgeon Israel and its policies in order to retain a whiff of potency and relevance to their overwhelmingly intermarrying minions.

The virtually willful self-destruction of organized liberal Judaism – at its own hand – was first evident in the very nature of its modern synagogue architecture; a design model that broadcast the message “If we build it they won’t come”. Is there any other religion in the world that builds its synagogues, temples or churches around the nucleus of a miniature chapel with a sliding rear wall that opens up to a gym or ballroom which then accommodates the remaining 95% of an utterly indifferent membership for two sessions a year? Such a priori defeatism is unprecedented, and unheard of anywhere but in the Reform and Conservative movements – the architecture of failure and doom.

Reneging on the Western Wall deal is testimony to the shortsightedness and stupidity of a hereditary Israeli Rabbinate controlled by a criminal haredi Black Hand and ex-con ministers who march to their invisible drummers. All this accomplishes is to allow a virtual non-issue to arm America’s Reform and Conservative press release factories, instead of allowing those movements to go more gentle into that good night. Truly a lose-lose situation.

About the Author
J.J Gross is a veteran creative director and copywriter, who made aliyah in 2007 from New York. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a lifelong student of Bible and Talmud. He is also the son of Holocaust survivors from Hungary and Slovakia.
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