Sunday, November 17, 2013

Women of the Wall, Democracy and Ducks

By Tuvia Brodie

Women of the Wall (WoW) have a mission. They fight for freedom. They seek equality.  
They want more democracy in Israel. Specifically, they want the same rights as men. They want to pray as equals at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. They want to wear men’s taleitim (prayer shawls).
For more than 3,000 years, Judaism has made a distinction between men and women. But WoW rejects this distinction.
They want the legal right to pray like men. They can do that now—privately. What they want is the right to do that in public, wherever they want. They say that limiting women’s right to pray in public is not a prayer issue. Those limitations are “a violation of civil rights, human rights and religious freedoms” (see their Homepage). Therefore, they call their fight ‘social advocacy’. 
The WoW Homepage says “we have NO ‘hidden agenda’, we have no secondary issue to women’s free prayer at the Kotel and we are very careful to focus only on this one issue.” But ‘social advocacy’ is not a term normally applied to prayer. ‘Social advocacy’ is the language of social activism. It is the language of Israel’s Left as it battles in the name of ‘democracy’ for Arabs and against the State of Israel.
It is also the language of Reform Judaism, which battles in the name of ‘democracy’ to change the nature of the Jewish religion in Israel.  
Is WoW connected to Reform Judaism’s goals for Israel? Is that possible? They say their only goal is to pray; could they actually be doing something else--working to assist a Reform religious agenda?
In America, Reform Judaism is the most powerful Jewish group. Its watered-down version of religion has brought to America a host of benefits: diversity, equality for women, non-Jewish Jews, a 70+ per cent out-marriage rate, and a growing number of households where children are raised under the demographic category called, ‘not-Jewish.’
Recently, sociologist Steve Cohen—from the Reform’s own Hebrew Union College—had this to say about orthodox and non-orthodox demographics: “for every 100 Orthodox Jewish 50-year-olds, there are 230 Orthodox 10-year-olds, and for every 100 non-Orthodox 50-year-olds, there are 70 non-Orthodox 10-year-olds” (see Julie Wiener, JTA, “Parsing Pew: New insights on Orthodox growth and intermarriage offspring”, November 12, 2013).
That doesn’t bode well for the future of non-orthodox Jewry in America. Reform leads the ‘non-orthodox’. To some, it has facilitated the growth of an American Jewish demographic sector that now raises its children ‘not Jewish’.  
Now they want to export their product to Israel. What does this have to do with WoW? Anat Hoffman, Chairwoman of WoW, tells us in her WoW Homepage bio statement that she is the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center. This Center is the legal and advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel.
The leader of WoW is, in other words, part of Reform Judaism’s hierarchy. Is her fight for prayer just another part of the Reform agenda?
In Israel, when it comes to those who fight for ‘change’, there are no coincidences.  WoW may indeed package its product as a fight for the freedom to worship at the Western Wall. But its call for advocacy and diversity is simply too close to the Reform worldview to be coincidence.
For many, Reform Judaism has a Leftist religious agenda. But the Left in Israel isn’t just interested in dismantling the influence of Orthodox Rabbis in Israel. The Left also wants to dismantle Israel.
Hoffman is part of the religiously Left Reform movement in Israel. Her vice-chair, Batya Kallus, seems to be part of the politically Left ‘democracy’ movement in Israel. Kallus works for The Moriah Fund. This organization aims to promote “Civil Rights, Social Justice and Democracy in Israel”. It works with the New Israel Fund, Israel’s premier Leftist NGO.
In Israel, you are identified by the associations you have with others. You reveal what you believe by the people you choose to spend time with.
I cannot say that Anat Hoffman works with a Leftist agenda to dismantle the ‘fascism’ of the Orthodox Rabbinate in Israel (a familiar wording of the Leftist Haaretz). If I did that, WoW might sue me. They have already threatened others for pointing out her Leftist associations.
So, officially, I’m only telling you that WoW believes in freedom of religion for women. They believe in more democracy for women. I just don’t know if they believe in democracy for me or if this is another example of the mantra of the Left as in, "democracy for me but not for thee".
I can’t give Hoffman a label. She might threaten me. I can only tell you that, even though her WoW Homepage says it has only one agenda—prayer-- Hoffman herself has been quoted as saying, "I am also questioning why are the Orthodox the only ones in charge of marriage and divorce in Israel?” (Arutz Sheva, “Women of Wall Accused of Hiding True Intentions,” Arutz Sheva Staff, April 11, 2013).
This questioning of who controls marriage and divorce in Israel has nothing to do with WoW’s supposedly singular issue--prayer. But it is familiar: it is the very same question Reform Judaism asks as it attempts to undercut traditional Jewish law in Israel. It is also one element of Leftist attacks against Israel, something you discover upon reading the Leftist Haaretz.
Is Hoffman, as her Homepage unequivocally declares, interested only in prayer at the Wall—or is she after something more?
I cannot tell you. I cannot speak freely. I can only ask, if Anat Hoffman looks like a duck, walks like a duck, associates with ducks and quacks like a duck, she isn’t a duck?
I don’t want to be sued. Therefore, here’s a disclaimer:  what you read about here are lies.
Women of the Wall are freedom-fighters.

Viva democracy!

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