Tearful chief rabbi holds Orthodox prayers at egalitarian Western Wall plaza
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Tearful chief rabbi holds Orthodox prayers at egalitarian Western Wall plaza

Conservative Movement calls Shlomo Amar's visit a 'deliberate sabotage of Israel's relations with world Jewry'

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar speaks at the mixed gender Western Wall plaza, on June 14, 2016. (screen capture: Ynet)
Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar speaks at the mixed gender Western Wall plaza, on June 14, 2016. (screen capture: Ynet)

Jerusalem’s Sephardic chief rabbi on Tuesday conducted an Orthodox prayer service at the mixed-gender plaza at the Western Wall, a site newly designated for Reform and Conservative worship.

Accompanied by police and some two dozen worshipers, Rabbi Shomo Amar had a makeshift barrier to separate men and women erected before presiding over prayers at the site.

The new egalitarian pavilion at the Western Wall has pitted the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel and the United States against Israel’s Orthodox-controlled Chief Rabbinate, which administers the holy site. The Conservative Movement in Israel was outraged by the “provocative” visit Tuesday, and called it an act of “deliberate sabotage” for Jewish relations.

Amar, who last week publicly denounced the new plaza as an “unforgivable wrong,” burst into tears after concluding the Tuesday morning prayer service, where he vowed to remain “vigilant” in the face of the desecration of the Western Wall.

“The entire Kotel [Western Wall] is drenched in holiness and was given to the people of Israel by God,” he said. “Dividing the wall damages the sanctity of this place, damages the unity of the nation, and will cause weeping for generations to come,” Amar warned.

“The holiness of this place cannot be undone. Not by the courts, the government… or gentiles, the UN, or any other power — it is impossible,” he said.

A police officer stands in front of a makeshift partition erected ahead of an Orthodox prayer service at the mixed gender Western Wall plaza on June 14, 2016. screen capture: Facebook)
A police officer stands in front of a makeshift partition erected ahead of an Orthodox prayer service at the mixed gender Western Wall plaza on June 14, 2016. screen capture: Facebook)

“We will remain vigilant as we attempt to honor God, the divine presence, the Jewish people and the land of Israel,” Amar added.

As he exited the plaza, Amar can be heard saying: “May God bring these evil people back into the fold.”

The Conservative movement in Israel denounced the “defiant” and “provocative” visit, and demanded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rein in the chief rabbi.

“Rabbi Amar’s provocation deliberately sabotages the Israel’s relations with world Jewry. It affects hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews who wish to pray at the Western Wall free of partitions,” a statement by the movement said.

הרב המתריס

הבוקר הגיע רבה הראשי של ירושלים הרב שלמה עמאר יחד פמלייה גדולה, ועם אנשי עטרת כהנים ל'עזרת ישראל' (הכותל השוויוני). בפעולה מתוכננת ומאורגנת לפרטיה, ובחסות משטרת ישראל, הם הציבו מחיצה במקום והתפללו שחרית. המשטרה סילקה את השומר במקום, והניחה למתפללים לקבוע המחיצה, בניגוד לכללי המקום, ולנהל התפילה. אלו אותם אנשי עטרת כהנים שסיירו בעזרת ישראל לפני מספר שבועות עם השר אורי אריאל. קשה להאמין שהשר אינו מעורב בהחלטה של הרב עמאר לקיים תפילת התרסה במקום. הסרט מדבר בעד עצמו – בבריונות וכפיה דתית, בגיבוי המשטרה, הכשירו את פריצת הפמלייה לעזרת ישראל, ואת הקמת המחיצה בניגוד למנהג המקום. במהלך האירוע הרב עמאר נשא דברים נגד מתווה הכותל, נגד הממשלה ובית המשפט וקבע שאין בכוחם למסור את הכותל לאיש. את הקונסרבטיבים והרפורמים הוא כינה 'הרשעים האלה'. ראש הממשלה Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו, אנא קרא לסדר את רב העיר ירושלים שמקבל משכורתו ממשלם המיסים ופעל בנחישות ליישום המתווה עליו חתמה ממשלתך. הפרובוקציה של הרב עמאר היא חבלה ביודעין ביחסי ישראל עם יהודי העולם. היא פוגעת במאות אלפי היהודים בישראל שמבקשים להתפלל בכותל ללא מחיצות. והיא חותרת תחת הטענה הבסיסית, הציונית כל כך, שממשלת ישראל כה מרבה להשתמש בה מעל כל במה, ולפיה מדינת ישראל היא מדינת הלאום של העם היהודי.

Posted by ‎The Masorti Movement In Israel-התנועה המסורתית בישראל‎ on Tuesday, 14 June 2016

“Using bullying, coercion and backed by the police…a partition was erected contrary to custom of the place.” it said. “During the service, Amar spoke out against the Western Wall compromise, the government and the courts — all of whom he has determined lack the authority to give the wall to anyone.”

Noting that Amar had previously referred to Reform and Conservative Jews as “villains,” the statement called on Netanyahu to intervene.

The Western Wall compromise, passed in a January 31 cabinet decision that reflected the work of years of negotiations, called for a permanent prayer platform to be built along the southern end of the Western Wall in an area of the Davidson Archaeological park, otherwise known as Robinson’s Arch. There is currently a temporary prayer platform set up there in two distinct areas of the park.

The plan was heralded as a symbol of “Jewish unity” throughout most of the Jewish Diaspora. But within days of its jubilant announcement — a headline which splashed across international media — the cabinet decision drew the ire of the ultra-Orthodox parties in Netanyahu’s coalition who view the Western Wall pavilion as an open-air Orthodox synagogue. Its implementation has been stymied for the past four months.

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