Why guide dogs should be allowed at the Western Wall.
Benjamin “Benny” Lau
Special To The Jewish Week
Story Includes Video:
Sixty blind people with guide dogs recently toured the Old City of Jerusalem. Despite the eternal darkness they experience, they were flooded with light. Touching the stones of the Jewish Quarter brought tears to their sightless eyes. However, they could not approach the prayer site sanctified by a myriad of Jewish tears over the millennia, since Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who holds the title of rabbi of the Western Wall, has ruled that the Western Wall plaza is off limits to all types of animals — guide dogs included.
An initiative inviting 100 rabbis to deliver sermons about the Women of the Wall this High Holiday Season has enlisted dozens of rabbis. Although I understand why it is irresistible, I am not impressed.
In an attempt to soothe tensions at the Western Wall ahead of the High Holidays over the issue of women’s right to pray there collectively, the Israeli government has built a platform for services outside the main plaza, a move denounced as “exile” by the primary group that has been pushing for change at one of Judaism’s holiest sites.
The security guard who fatally shot an Israeli homeless man at the Western Wall plaza early Friday is under investigation for murder.
The guard, a Druze who had been on the job for a short time, reportedly had clashed previously with Doron Ben Shlush. He was arrested after the incident on Friday morning and ordered held for five days. His name is under a gag order.
A police investigation has determined that Ben Shlush yelled “Druze, you son of a bitch” at the security guard, according to the Times of Israel.
Israel’s chief rabbis received death threats in letters to their offices warning them to allow the Women of the Wall to pray “in accordance with our customs.”
The letters, headlined “This is a last warning,” were delivered Monday to the offices of Rabbi Yona Metzger and Rabbi Shlomo Amar. A complaint was filed with the security officer of the Prime Minister’s Office.