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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 24, 2018 Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 Jewish worshipers cover themselves with prayer shawls as they pray in front of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City, during the Cohen Benediction priestly blessing at the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Oct. 8, 2017. By Josh Hasten (JNS)--The future of prayer at the Western Wall has become one of the most contentious issues among Diaspora Jewry in the past year, mainly as a result of the Israeli government's June 2017, suspension of a plan, which would have changed the status quo at one of Juda- ism's holiest site. Leaders of Diaspora Jewry from the non-Orthodox streams, along with the Women of the Wall organi- zation, a group that holds monthly controversial prayer services at the Western Wall, were enraged by the last-minute shelving of the proposal. The plan had suggested enlarging and solidifying the current temporary egalitarian prayer section constructed in 2013 near Robinson's Arch on the south side of the wail, while creating a common opening from the main West- ern Wall plaza to make the en- trance more prominent. At the same time, a joint committee of Reform, Conservative and non-Orthodox female repre- sentatives was established to oversee the area. Yet while the issue of Western Wall prayer gener- ated such strong emotions in the Diaspora and within sectors in Israel that work directly with Diaspora Jewry, why has the Israeli public as a whole been substantially less committed to--in fact, downright unenthusiastic about--changing the status quo? The American Jewish Com- mittee's 2018 groundbreak- ing survey on the attitudes of American and Israeli Jews shows that while 73 percent of American Jews, a strong majority, favor prov!ding a space near the Western Wall for mixed-gender prayer, with just 21 percent opposed, within Israeli Jewry that sta- tistic was 42 percent in favor with 48 percent opposed. 'Resentment on core issues' Knesset member Michael Oren, deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Office, says that he is in the midst of a ma- jor undertaking, researching why the issue of prayer at the Western Wall isn't a burning issue for average Israelis. He tells JNS that while he believes that most Israelis feel there should be a rec- ognized egalitarian section at the Western Wall, it's not something they are passion- ate about. He points out that 100,000 Israelis joined a rally in Tel Aviv in sup- port of surrogacy rights for male gay couples last week, but asks rhetorically, "How many would come out for a rally in support of Reform/ Conservative rights at the Kotel [Western Wall]? Maybe a couple dozen." Oren adds that while many in Israel took issue with vari- ous aspects of the recently passed Nationality Law, including wording when it comes to Jewish settlements and minority rights, "there wasn't any real discussion in Israel over Article Six," which discusses non-Israeli Jews. The third bullet point in Article Six states that "the State shall act to preserve the cultural, historical and religious heritage of the Jewish people among Jews in the Diaspora," implying that the rights of Diaspora Jews while in Israel weren't covered under the law. Oren explains that the original text didn't say "Dias- pora," but included the phrase "among Jews wherever they are." It was revised to include the word due to pressure from ultra-Orthodox Knesset parties. He says "there was no interest [in fighting] to make a change back to the original text," proving Israeli indifference on these issues, including prayer the Western Wall for non-Israelis, most whom are affiliated with the non-Orthodox movements. Oren feels that it is his responsibility to awaken the Israeli public on the importance of these topics, though he realizes his goal is difficult; the divide between Israelis and Diaspora Jewry on many issues is currently wide. "There is resentment here on core Israeli issues, such as the Iranian nuclear deal and the U.S. moving its embassy to Jerusalem, because they [U.S. Jews] backed the first and opposed the second," he says. Oren gives several other examples supporting this schism, but feels passionately that Israelis "have a responsi- bility and should be working with Diaspora Jewish move- ments from all streams to strengthen Jewish identify and promote aliyah," among other issues. 'Changing what they know is unacceptable' Rabbi Ken Spiro, a histo- rian and a licensed tour guide from the Israel Ministry of Tourism, says that the bottom line regarding the attitude of the majority of Israelis about prayer at the Kotel and why there isn't a significant out- cry for change is that "Is- raelis, in general, are more traditional than Jews in the Diaspora." He explains that the major difference between Israel and the Diaspora is that in the Jewish state, there is a large population of Sephardim (Jews from the Arab world) who are generally more tra- ditional and historically have had no exposure to Reform or Conservatism Judaism-- movements that originated in Western European--as well as American Ashkenazi Jew- ish communities of the i9th and early 20th centuries. Spiro says most tradi- tional or Orthodox Israelis "want to preserve status quo; that's what's normal for them. Changing what they know is 'unacceptable,' as it is a departure from the long-accepted practices of the past." He believes that having separate sections for gen- ders in synagogue is a long- accepted practice, noting the old joke about Israelis and synagogue attendance: "The shul I don't go to is Orthodox." Ran Baratz, former di- rector of communications for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says the reason Israelis are less interested in creating change at the Western Wall is due to the "Orthodox or traditional attitude of most Israelis." He cites anecdotal proof in "the fact that the large majority of the visitors to pray separately, Diaspora on page 14A J CONGREGATION OHEVSHALO CONNECTING, DISCOVERING, AND CELEBRATING JUDAISM IN CENTRAL FLORIDA SINCE 1918 5779--2018 High Holy Day Service Schedule Rabbi: David Kay Rabbi Emeritus: Aaron D. Rubinger Cantor: Allan Robuck Director of Youth and Family Education: Amy Geboff Executive Director: Steve Brownstein President: Steven Hornik Sunday Monday Tuesday Rosh Hashanah 5779 September 9, 2018 September 10, 2018 September 11, 2018 8:00 pm ticket required 9:00 am ticket required 8:00 pm open to community 9:00 am open to community Preschool Family Service---COS School Wing Tuesday September 11,2018 9:30 am open to community OFFICE: 407-298-4650 613 CONCOURSE PARKWAY SOUTH, MArrLAND 32751 VVVVVV. OH EVSHALOM. ORG Yom Kippur 5779 Tuesday September 18, 2018 Minchah Wednesday Kol Nidre 6:30 pm ticket required 6:45 pm ticket required September 19, 2018 9:00 am ticket required *Yizkor 1:30 pm open to community Minchah 5:30 pm o/ n to community *Ne'ilah 6:45 pm open to community *Ma'Ariv & Shofar Blowing after Ne'ilah (open to community) *approximate starting times College students and military personnel are guests of Congregation Ohev Shalom at all services Proper ID is required Tuesday Family Service---COS Chapel September 11, 2018 10:30 alTl open to comrnunity TICKETS FOR ROSH HASHANAH & YOM PPUR I AVAILABLE TO NON-MEMBERS FOR $180 SPECIAL CHILDREN'S PROGRAMMING FOR MEMBERS AND OTHER TICKET HOLDERS Advance Registration Required-please call for more information Follow us on Facebook hKp:, ", '- s. itce!; (Ji'c, Shu k;m()H{-ndo