No More Immigration Ceremonies at Western Wall
It’s ‘not a banquet hall,’ says chief of supervisory board
The Jewish Agency has long held citizenship ceremonies for new immigrants at the Western Wall, a place that is conveniently both the holiest site in modern Jewry and a nice backdrop for photographs of grinning, newly minted Israelis. As of tomorrow, though, the agency will move all of its immigration ceremonies to the roof of a nearby yeshiva—nice, sure, but a little lighter on the symbolism. The move is apparently a compromise designed to head off a growing turf battle—literally—between Paula Edelstein, a lay leader of the immigration agency who also chairs the Reform movement’s Israeli arm, and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, head of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which manages the site. Several weeks ago, Edelstein told the Jerusalem Post that Rabinovich had demanded the Jewish Agency start separating men and women at their ceremonies, and, more awkwardly, that women—including, presumably, Edelstein—be blocked from emceeing the events. But Rabinovich tells Haaretz today that, no, of course that wasn’t the reason. He just didn’t want the religious atmosphere at the Kotel to be compromised by, you know, a loud, potentially disruptive celebration. “The Wall,” he said, “is not a banquet hall.” To which we respond, having noted all the bridal couples and b’nai mitzvot who show up there every day, really?