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Thursday, June 15, 2017 

A Reform group prays at Western Wall without Haredis interrupting

This was last month, but is still very significant in what it proves:
Some 450 people participating in a conference of the World Union for Progressive Judaism were allowed to bring Torah scrolls into the Western Wall plaza and read from them undisturbed on Thursday morning.

The group brought in five Torah scrolls, despite the ban by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation against bringing in private Torah scrolls.

[...] Thursday’s progressive prayer service appears to be the first time that a non-Orthodox group was permitted to bring in and read a Torah at the site.
The group first prayed in the egalitarian prayer area at the southern end of the Western Wall outside the main site, and went to the central plaza to read from the Torah.

When they arrived at the entrance to the Western Wall, security officials of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation said that bringing the Torah scrolls in violated its policies, but when the group insisted they wished to enter with them they were allowed to do so.

No less remarkable was the almost complete absence of harassment and protests of any kind against the progressive service, which was conducted in the upper plaza just behind the men’s and women’s section.

Rabbi Daniel Freelander, president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, described the service as “a perfect experience” and a statement that progressive Jews want to be a normal part of activities at the Western Wall.

“This was a very different experience then we’ve had in the past; there were no protests, no upset and no violence, and hopefully this is a sign of where things are moving,” Freelander told The Jerusalem Post.

“We want to pray at the Western Wall the way we do in our home communities, and we therefore want the government resolution to be implemented,” he continued in reference to the cabinet decision last year to create a state-recognized egalitarian prayer area at the southern section of the site.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Reform Movement in Israel, noted that there had been no massed ranks of schoolgirls or yeshiva students protesting against the service, as has frequently occurred at past non-Orthodox services, and neither was there women blasting on whistles, verbal abuse or any other harassment.

Kariv said that three yeshiva students began singing in their direction, which was the only form of protest that was encountered.

He added that the officials from the progressive Jewish denominations had directly informed the Prime Minister’s Office about the scheduled service and that they believed the PMO had asked the Western Wall Heritage Foundation and Rabinowitz to allow the Torah scrolls to be brought in.

Kariv said that the lack of protests on Thursday was proof that the opposition to progressive prayer at the Western Wall was purely political.
I think so too. Those Haredi sources who set all that up still haven't apologized for resorting to violence. This made me think recently: what if Shira Banki had been one of the Women of the Wall group? Do they know how bad it would look if they attacked people like her after what that horrible maniac who was raised under their terrible education system did? I think they're well aware of that, but because the tragedy had no direct impact or relation to that topic, they felt they could get away with it. I've seen how they only seem to publicly react to something abominable committed by Haredi crackpots when it actually makes serious headlines, as did the Beit Shemesh horror in 2011.

The Haredis know perfectly well that prayer alone will not damage the Western Wall/Temple Mount, and that it's ultimately up to God to judge WotW, not the Haredis. Which, IMHO, suggests, believe it or not, that the opposition is technically atheist, or has a warped idea of what God wants, sort of like Islamists. They might also want to consider how many converts to Reform Judaism they may have led to with their offensive reactions - I recently was walking through Tel Aviv, and noticed a possible Reform synagogue with a LGBT flag draped across; what are the odds the Haredis led to so many people to get angry to the point they'd join the Reform in revenge?

If there's any meat to that theory, then the Haredis have only their awful behavior to blame. If they truly don't want that to happen, that's why they'll cease giving the Reforms the attention they don't need. I don't find Reform appealing, but I am willing to respect their wish to pray unperturbed at the Western Wall, and don't think they could come within even miles of "taking over". I'm sure the Haredi extremists don't think so either.

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