Can someone help me understand why I should care about Israel? Can someone help me understand why I should still be a Jew?
I’m reading Haaretz.com, the Israeli newspaper’s website, about the recommendation of the Jerusalem police to press charges against Anat Hoffman, leader of Women at the Wall, for refusing to relinquish the Torah she was carrying at the Western Wall, the holiest wall in the Jewish world.
In 2002 the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that women are forbidden to read aloud from the Torah at the Wall. Ms. Hoffman was not reading the Scroll only carrying it, but that, according to Shmuel Rabinovitch, the rabbi in charge of the Wall, was a provocation.
“I am not interested in having a halakhic or an ideological discussion, but the Western Wall belongs to the entire Jewish people. We have to make every effort to make every Jew feel at home here,” the rabbi said. I assume by “every Jew” he meant every Orthodox Jew, and by “the entire Jewish people” he meant the entirety of those Jewish people with penises given by God and clipped by man. And yet I have one of those penises, and I was accosted at the Wall as well. Years ago I led a prayer service of women and men (no Torah) in the plaza far from but in full view of the Western Wall and we were accosted by Orthodox men. We huddled more tightly together and continued our service as they pushed and shouted. And we were outside the office prayer space of the Wall!
When this kind of thing happens in Iran I am happy I am not Iranian. When it happens in Saudi Arabia I am happy I am not a Saudi. When Islam falls deeper and deeper into the mores of the 7th century even as it seeks the weaponry of the 21st century, I am glad I am not a Muslim. And yet Israel and Judaism seem to be doing the same thing. No wonder I am having more and more trouble being a Jew!
Sure we have liberal denominations, but they have no power. What does it mean when a liberal rabbi who would not even be recognized as a rabbi in Israel (and if he or she is a convert to Judaism perhaps not even as a Jew) stands up during the High Holy Days to defend Israel? To me this sounds more and more like Stockholm Syndrome.
Enough! If Israel wants to oppress its women by silencing them at the Wall and forcing them to sit in the back of “Orthodox” buses, and Israeli women want to go along with that, fine, but leave me out of it. If Israelis want to be held hostage to Orthodoxy and medieval mores, that is their business, but don’t ask me to care, and don’t ask me to donate money to support it.
I am opposed to dragging any country into the 21st Century against its will whether it be Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel or even (as I fear the November elections will show) the United States.
I hate feeling this way. Please, someone, talk me out of it!