The Rabbinical Alliance of America—Igud HaRabbonim, representing over 950 American rabbis—calls on people of all faiths and nationalities to maintain the respect and dignity of the Kotel, the Western Wall. According to sacred Jewish tradition the entirety of Israel is a Holy Land. However, certain holy sites are of special hallowed significance. The Western Wall, the Kotel, is the only remaining wall standing from the structure of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Our Sages teach us that the Divine Presence, the Shechina, never departed from the Western Wall. Every year, millions of visitors to the Kotel show reverence and respect for the sanctity of the holy place.
Recently, protesters aggressively disrupted a non-traditional bar mitzvah service held at a side plaza at the Kotel. News commentators rightly objected to the aggressive nature of the protests that served to offend celebrants. The commentators failed to object to the non-traditional services held in a sacred space. Both acts, the celebration and the protest, failed to respect the dignity of the Kotel.
The Rabbinical Alliance of America welcomes everyone—Jews and gentiles, people of all denominations and faiths—to pray at the Kotel and calls on them to do so in a dignified way that respects those gathered to pray and respects Jewish tradition. Any prayer should be engaged within the framework of the separate Men’s and Women’s sections. Any protests should be done respectfully, attempting to reach out with love in a way that respects the dignity of others and encourages them to return to Jewish tradition.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America stated, “as we approach Tisha B’av, the annual commemoration of the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, we think about what we have lost as a people, both in terms of the Temple and its service and in terms of national unity. The Rabbinical Alliance of America calls on all people of good faith and good will to respect the traditions of Judaism and the sanctity of the Kotel by worshiping traditionally, i.e. always remaining within the bounds of Halacha, and by reaching out to others in a way that increases national unity and respect for Jewish tradition.”
Mirocznik further stated, “the Kotel should be a source of unity, respect and love among all Jews. Historically, the Kotel has been a source of inspiration and teshuvah, repentance, as representatives of traditional Judaism reach out to visitors from afar. Jews of all backgrounds from all over the world pray together at the Kotel, in a beautiful chorus that pierces the gates of heavens. When everyone prays according to Jewish tradition in this sacred place, we all pray together. When groups choose to bring non-traditional practices to the Kotel, it divides us as a people in the place that, more than others, should inspire unity. Non-Halachic prayer services at the Kotel offend the sanctity of the holy place, the unity of the Jewish people and the inspiration of the sole remnant of the Temple. The response to these improper practices at the Kotel must be reaching out with love, trying to bring our brothers and sisters to appreciate the sanctity of the Kotel and the importance of Jewish unity. It is of utmost importance that our response to non-Halachic prayer services show our concern for sanctity, tradition and Jewish unity. We pray for the rebuilding of the Temple when we all will worship together in a traditional way.”