Israel News for November 2, 2016

Kotel Demonstration
Early this morning, hundreds of protesters led by a delegation of prominent Conservative and Reform rabbis carrying Torah scrolls marched towards the Kotel to protest the governments inaction in creating an agreed upon egalitarian prayer area at the southern end of the Kotel.

The demonstrators were blocked from entering the Western Wall plaza by security personnel. Scuffles between marchers and security guards broke out. Eventually the rabbis succeeding in breaking through and making their way to the Kotel with their Torahs. Kotel regulations prohibit bringing your own Torah to the site.

At the Kotel they were confronted by Orthodox protestors, both male and female. There was pushing and shoving and lots of angry words. A few of the rabbis, including Yizhar Hess, the head of the Conservative Movement in Israel, were reportedly pushed to the ground.

The demonstration was scheduled to coincide with the monthly prayer service held by the Women of the Wall on Rosh Chodesh, the first of the Jewish month (today is Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan).

Leaders of the protest included Rabbi Steven Wernick, chief executive officer of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Last night PM Netanyahu tried to dissuade the protestors from marching, saying, “We have one people and one wall — it’s our wall,” he said. “The less publicly we talk about it, the better chance we have to resolve it. The last thing we need is more friction, as that will make a solution more difficult.”

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Coming Home
Earlier today, 250 new immigrants from Ukraine arrived in Israel. They included 117 families and 52 children. Many of the new olim had lived in areas involved in the fighting between Russia and Ukraine. The new immigrants will receive assistance from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), including the cost of the flight plus $1,000 for each adult and $500 for each child.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, President of the IFCJ: “As a part of our engagement with Aliyah we are often exposed to moving stories of Jews from all around the world that have been through numerous troubles and now at last are fulfilling their Zionist dream and coming to live in Israel. We assist thousands of Jews from tens of countries from the Ukraine through Brazil to come and live in Israel. We help all immigrants when integrating into the Israeli society and economy by closely following up and providing financial aid so that we can assure the best possible integration.”

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