Aloud and Clear

11 April 2013

April 11, 2013

American and other overseas NIF supporters and Israeli NIF supporters share a set of values and a vision for Israel, but we don’t always see all of our issues in exactly the same way. Pluralism and freedom of (and from) religion is a case in point. Some Israelis are bemused and a bit taken aback by how painful attempts by the state-sponsored rabbinical establishment to narrowly define “who is a Jew,” and to enforce sexist rules about who can pray and how at the Kotel, the Western Wall, are to their American friends. Some Americans, on the other hand, do not fully appreciate how restrictive and offensive the almost total control of the same rabbinic establishment over life-cycle events — from birth to marriage to burial — is to their Israeli cousins.

And sometimes something happens to remind us all that we are fighting the same fight. Last week police warned our partners at Women of the Wall that they were prepared to file charges against women for praying at the wall, including saying Kaddish, the memorial prayer for the dead, aloud.

This is too much. It is time for all of us who care about justice in Jerusalem, wherever we live, to stand up with and for the Women of the Wall and the values of pluralism and equality that they stand for every month at the Kotel. I ask each of you to join me in signing a statement of support for these brave women, and to learn more about their struggle. Let them know that they are not alone.

Even as I write this, Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky is submitting recommendations to the prime minister on how to accommodate the rights of women – and really, all non-Orthodox Jews — at the Wall. Now is the time to make sure our voiced are heard, in Israel, Europe, North America and Australia. Our sisters in Jerusalem need us.

Daniel Sokatch


  1. I was at the Kotel in June 1967, with of a group of WUJS students of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who had stayed during the 6 day war to help if we could. I am revolted when I come to Israel nowadays and see the disproportioned place the Fundementalist Jews have taken in Jerusalem and in the whole country. Because of them, it is more and more difficult to defend Israel and its very existence with the gentiles (and even some Jews) in Europe. I support the courageous women (and men) who stand against the abuses of these Fundementalists and the politicians who support them. May they be more and more numerous and successful ! This country was built on an ideal of freedom and equality which should remerbered and become a reality.

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