Jewish Law For Israel

May 3, 2013

There are several points in Ben Sales’ article “Kotel Compromise notwithstanding, Israel facing uphill battle over pluralism” (online only, April 19) that require further comment. Regarding Women of the Wall, the Israeli Supreme Court years back heard the arguments for pluralism and ruled that the section of the Western Wall known as Robinson’s Arch should be set aside for religious services that do not follow minhag Jerusalem, which is broadly Orthodox.

In practice, Jewish and non-Jewish men all get along fine on the men’s side of the mechitza. Popes, cardinals, presidents, prime ministers all manage to respect one another. I understand from my wife that there was no problems on the women’s side either, aside from the Rosh Chodesh antics of the Women of the Wall, who refuse to use Robinson’s Arch and insist on offending other women by acting in contempt of the Court’s ruling.

Deuteronomy 22:5 says, “A woman shall not wear that which pertains to a man, and neither shall a man wear women’s clothing.” This is why some women are offended by Anat Hoffman draped in a tallit. … When entering religious sites one is
expected to respect the appropriate etiquette and not declare a war for religious pluralism.

Sales points out that Israel does not permit intermarriage or same-sex marriage. This might be because Deuteronomy 7:3 prohibits intermarriage, and Leviticus 18:22 prohibits same-sex marriage. Israel is considered to be a Jewish state, and therefore some element of Torah should come as no surprise.

Uri Regev, spokesman for the Movement for Reform Judaism in Israel, says Israel is too important to be left to Israelis and that the best chance for bringing about far-reaching reforms lies outside the country, in the form of the American Jewish community. “It’s all a question of applying sufficient pressure,” he says.

Can you imagine an Israeli saying American Judaism is too important to be left to Americans and that Americans must be pressured to do whatever Israelis tell them?

Joseph Feld
London
(Formerly of Baltimore)

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