Stony Brook Film Festival
view counter
Kotel Problem Not Haredi Extremism
Wed, 05/22/2013

While I agree with Rabbi Yitz Greenberg’s advocacy of the Sharansky compromise in regard to the Western Wall, there are two elements in his Opinion article with which I disagree (“Time For Modern Orthodox Leaders To Speak Out On Kotel Proposal,” Opinion, April 26).

First, he intimates that opposition to the Women of the Wall is due to haredi extremism. In reality, the actions of the Women of the Wall were offensive to a far larger group of Orthodox Jews and traditional Israelis who viewed the incident as an attempt to inflict feminist American values on a site holy to all Jews. If there is opposition from the Orthodox community, it is due to the reaction to these offensive actions. It is hoped that this will be overlooked, and a place will be found for everyone at the Kotel.

Secondly, Rabbi Greenberg speaks in favor of full religious equality for non-Orthodox movements in Israel. The reason for non-equality is not “haredi extremism” but the fact that the Reform and Conservative movements speak to an American sentiment and not to an Israeli one. The bulk of the membership of the Israeli Conservative and Reform movements are olim [emigrants] from North America. If they were given full religious equality, their synagogues would become mills for weddings, conversions, and funerals that could not be performed by Orthodox rabbis.

Israel is not the 51st state; it is a much more socially conservative country than the United States.

Fair Lawn, N.J.

Get The Jewish Week Newsletter

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.


Submitted on May 26, 2013
A reply from the letter's author to Ms. Yeshurun
There are several sentiments expressed by Ms.
Yeshurun which deserve a response. First of all,
the issue of establishing Conservative and Reform
in Israel has been argued for 40 years; the growth
among native Israelis is minimal; this should tell
even if they are not Orthodox, most Israelis prefer
the synagogue they don't go to be Orthodox.
Demonizing the Orthodox rabbinate does not
change that. Secondly, depending on life cycle
does not build very much of a movement. To
build a movement, you need a strong core.
The market for marriage and conversion mills will
disappear when Israel legalize some form of civil


Right on the $$
Glad to see some non-anti-orthodox writing in the usually anti-orthodox Jewish Week!!

In one sentence you state that the Reform and Conservative movements do not speak to Israeli sentiment. In the very next sentence you express your concern that these same movements will "become mills" for life cycle events that the Orthodox cannot (will not) perform. Israelis are learning about religious pluralism, and they like it. The trend in Israel is away from Orthodox marriages even amongst those who are not on the Rabbinate black list. The Orthodox establishment is at once in denial of this fact and at the same time truly frightened at the impending loss of its monopoly on religion.

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.