PM Bennett asks MK Kariv to cancel Kotel visit Friday for fear of violence

November 5, 2021 by Gil Tanenbaum - TPS
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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has personally asked Labor MK Gilad Kariv not to attend the special services being held Friday at the Kotel, Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem by the Women of the Wall organization for fear that there could be a violent confrontation.

“Women of the Wall” celebrating new month at Western Wall Photo by Adi Gefen/TPS

The group promotes the right of women to openly pray, lead services and read from a Tora scroll at the most sacred site to the Jewish people.

The Israel police have already announced plans to bring in additional officers to maintain the peace at the Plaza.

Director-General of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation Mordechai Eliav, sent a letter to the Jerusalem district police chief saying, “The foundation does not take responsibility for maintaining public order in the plaza tomorrow.” Then group, he said, is simply not capable of mediating between the sides.

A police representative told Kan 11 news “We will not allow disturbances at the Western Wall – we call on the parties to reach an understanding.”

Women of the Wall hold their own progressive service, where women can participate and there is no separation between men and women, on the first of the new Hebrew month, every month. This is a minor Jewish holiday called “Rosh Chodesh” and the first of the Hebrew month of Kislev comes on Friday.

Gilad Kariv is not only an MK, he is also a Reform rabbi. The Reform Jewish group allows women to become rabbis and to participate equally in its religious services. Kariv has, in the past, used his parliamentary immunity as an MK to break the laws applying to the area at the Wall by bringing a Tora scroll for the women to use.

Kariv has said that he will decide on whether or not to honour Bennett’s request once all of the remaining budget matters are approved by the Knesset.

The orthodox rabbinate in Israel prohibits women from holding a Tora scroll in the area of the Western Wall Plaza and holding any open service with mixed genders and women’s participation.

In the past, when the Women of the Wall have brought a Tora to their Rosh Chodesh service, Haredi people attacked them. The Prime Minister and the police are concerned about an outbreak of violence this time. They fear that it could be worse than in the past because of the current tension over the Haredi political parties having been left out of the coalition government.

Sephardic Haredi Shas Party leader Aryeh Deri has already called on people to come out and protest the Women at the Wall.

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