An Israeli Perspective on the Kotel Decision
By Aviv Ayash


As the Jewish Agency Israel Fellow at Rutgers Hillel, I believe I have responsibility to my American Jewish students but also to the Jews who live in Israel.


That’s why a few days ago I wrote on my Facebook wall what I think about the conversion bill. It was in Hebrew so my Israeli friends would be able to read it.


It then ran in the Israeli national daily newspaper “Yedioth Aharonoth” (See image at the bottom of this blog post)

Women of the Wall. Photo courtesy of Yedioth Achronoth

“Have you ever wondered why it is hard for American Jewish students to defend Israel on campus? Here’s the answer.

When a Reform Jew lives and feels Jewish in the United States:
He takes an active part in the Jewish community, learns Hebrew, celebrates the Jewish holidays and prays towards the Western Wall. But when he reaches the Western Wall, the holiest and most important place for the Jewish people, he is not considered a Jew, others spit on his mother when she enters with a Torah scroll and people prevent him from praying alongside his mother. That’s why it’s not easy for him to defend Israel on campus.


Those who have never lived in the Diaspora will never understand how difficult it is to preserve Jewish identity, how important it is to be part of a community, how important and difficult it is to preserve values, tradition and love of the Israel. Anyone who claims that the Reform Jews are not Jewish is spitting on Judaism.


Do you think it is hard for American Jews to defend Israel because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? No, think again. We will lose the support of American Jewry not because of the conflict, but because of the Western Wall.


Israel is the home of all Jews.”


This was published in Yedioth Achronoth, on July 3 as part of an article titled “Letters of the Shlichim (Emissaries) in America.” My Facebook post was the top left image on the page.