FZY Shlicha, Dagan Livny, has penned some thoughts about recent events in Israel with regards to the creation of a permanent space for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel. Have a read and let us know your thoughts!
“…And here they are, standing in front of it and breathing deeply, And here they are, looking at it with the sweet pain, Tears fall, and they look at each other bewildered, How can it be, how can it be that paratroopers are crying? How can it be that they’re touching the wall and are so moved? How can it be that from crying they switch to singing? Perhaps it’s because 19-year-old boys, who were born together with the establishment of the State, are carrying 2,000 years on their backs.”
These are the words from a song written by Haim Hefer shortly after paratroopers liberated the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six Day War.
50 years ago, this wall became a symbol of unity and togetherness. Following this week’s cabinet decision to suspend a government-approved plan to establish a pluralistic prayer pavilion at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, we are faced with genuine concern that the wall is no longer that symbol of unity and togetherness, rather it is becoming symbolic of the intolerance and rifts that shake up Israeli society.
This decision affects Jews from across the religious spectrum from around the world. The sense among many diaspora Jews is that their models of religious practice are not recognised by the country’s establishment and this is a source of growing anger and frustration, leading to alienation, particularly amongst the younger generation. Because of this decision, could we see a reduction in support of Israel from around the world?
So, the question beckons, what should WE do about it?
Firstly, we need to continue supporting Israel in whatever way we can. We need to keep Israel at the forefront of our minds, knowing that it is and always will be the Jewish homeland. Even if we are hurt by this decision, this is not the time to disconnect, but it provides an opportunity to try and influence. This relationship between a diaspora Jew and Israel is what Zionism is all about.
But at the same time, we need be critical and make sure that our voice is being heard to build the Israel that we so desire. It’s an opportunity to bring criticism from love and care – see it as a teacher correcting a mistake in your paper. After all, if it is something you care about, it is not a waste of time to criticise it.
This is not a political issue, but it is an issue that directly affects pluralism and Zionism, and that is why I feel as though it is incumbent upon us all to be critical about it. For inclusivity of all Jews, at the holiest Jewish site, we need to have a place for those who wish to pray in an egalitarian way at the Kotel, as we do for those who wish to pray segregated.
“If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.” (Psalms 137:5).
So this is my message to you: do not forget about Jerusalem, but at the same time, make sure Jerusalem does not forget about you.