Baltimore, MD, July 16, 2017 — The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing nearly 200 North American observant rabbis, today called upon the Reform and Conservative movements to “stop dividing the Jewish People” with what it termed a “disinformation campaign” regarding Israel’s Western Wall. The American liberal groups launched a billboard and poster campaign across Israel Thursday featuring the slogan “Free the Western Wall — Enough of Charedi Control!” Charedim, often called “ultra-Orthodox,” are only a minority of Israel’s traditional Jews.
According to the CJV, the American-funded posters disenfranchise all traditional Israeli Jews, including refugees from countries like Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco, as well as Jews from ancient communities in Italy, Greece, India and elsewhere. None of these are considered “charedi” or “ultra-Orthodox,” yet all strictly observe the custom of dividing men and women during prayer.
“This is a disinformation campaign intended to calumny other Jews,” said Rabbi Yaakov Menken, Director of the CJV. “It doesn’t merely demonize the charedim, it insults all Jews who do not follow Reform’s lead in the abandonment of classical Jewish practice.”
According to the CJV, this is but one element of an international effort to misrepresent Israel’s commitment to democracy and religious freedom. In 2013 the Israeli government built a facility called “Ezrat Yisrael” to facilitate alternative prayers of all kinds at the Western Wall. The American movements claim this section as their own, yet have never filled it.
“On July 11, the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, Ezrat Yisrael stood entirely empty while the traditional section was filled to capacity,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the CJV. “The American movements know that over 99.9% of Jewish prayers said in Israel accord with traditional practice. They are demanding an ‘equal’ space for political reasons, while falsely claiming that current facilities for their use are inadequate and discriminatory.”
Anat Hoffman, Director of Women of the Wall and the Israel Religious Action Center of the Reform movement, filmed a video on July 4 decrying Ezrat Yisrael as “a second-rate platform for second-rate Jews.” During the video, funded by the Reform movement in Israel, she stands only in a small section designed for people to approach and touch the Wall itself without disturbing the archaeological site beneath, while never showing the full expanse of Ezrat Yisrael.
“She and the Reform movement knowingly exploit the fact that most American Jews have not come to Israel to see the truth for themselves,” concluded Rabbi Menken. “They should stop this dishonest effort to divide the Jewish People. They should be ashamed.”