Allan Kahan, President of the FJMC, made the following statement with respect to the position of the USCJ and Rabbi Jacob Bluemental, and the interference of the chaos which ensured when non-Orthodox Jews attempted to pray in their space during Tisha B'Av.
“The events of the night of Tisha B’Av are just the latest example of the despicable behavior of some fanatics against other Jews,” Rabbi Blumenthal said. “The rabbis assigned this day on the Jewish calendar to warn against sinat hinam, baseless hatred, yet this is how some act against their Jewish siblings. We call on all in the Jewish world, and particularly Israeli governmental leaders, to denounce this behavior and affirm the right of all to practice Judaism according to their traditions and conscience throughout Israel, including at the Kotel. We call on the new coalition government to quickly fulfill its promise in their coalition agreement to carry out the Kotel Agreement that has been stalled for years. The Masorti-Conservative movement affirms Ahavat Yisrael, a love for all Jews, and expects others to do so as well, particularly as we mourn and commemorate our shared history of destruction and suffering.”
Rabbi Blumenthal continued, “On our recent solidarity mission, we heard support first-hand for religious pluralism from leaders from within the coalition government and beyond. The hatred expressed on the night of Tisha B’Av means we cannot wait any longer. The government must immediately carry out the terms of the Kotel agreement, ensuring that all who wish to pray and celebrate at the Kotel may do so in safety and joy.”
Leaders of the Masorti Movement in Israel have noted that this moment – the aftermath of last night’s chaos- may be key in getting the kotel deal back onto the table.
(Context: The deal was approved by the past government and then tabled, so it only takes a cabinet level decision to implement it, which is well within the power, and we think, the plans, of the new, albeit fragile, government.)
Here’s the ask- if you have connections with local Federation leaders or with JFNA:
Please contact your local federation CEO and ask them to speak up, ideally publicly, on behalf of the importance of implementing the already approved kotel deal. Please also ask them to speak with JFNA leadership about this. Last night’s events at the section specifically set aside for egalitarian observance demonstrate how crucial it is that our people around the world see themselves as having a place at the Kotel and in the Jewish state. (emphasis added)