A bigger, better Western Wall

After all the traffic of Tishrei at the Kotel, Ynet reports that the Western Wall square will be expanded. According to the article, the current area can hold 45,000 people; they’re going to try to fit another 5,000 people in, which still comes way short of the 70,000 who came for Monday’s davening.
(Monday’s davening? As in, the highest crowds were there for the Second Intermediate Day of the Feast of Booths? ….oh, maybe it’s Yom Kippur and the article just got printed late. Sigh. Jews.)
If I may offer a suggestion of alternate plans to the 20,000 folks who still won’t fit: go to Rabbi Raz’s Minyan Shelanu. There’s no real address for it; just go to Nachlaot and start asking around. You won’t get jostled as much. And the singing kicks ass.
(uh, sorry for saying “ass,” rabbi raz. but it does.)

17 thoughts on “A bigger, better Western Wall

  1. Nope, they got the day right. 70,000-80,000 people came to recieve the priestly blessing on sukkot. I imagine a lot of people are more willing to deal with crowds and getting to the wall on a chol hamoed when they can drink and use mechanical transportation than on yom kippur when they are fasting and would most likely walk(yes, people could drive and eat on yom kippur, but I’m assuming that the people that wanted to recieve the priestly blessing would most likely fast and walk).
    Check out this blog for info on the event. http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com/2006/10/80000.html

  2. I have an idea– they use all that new space to equalize the size of the women’s section (instead of shrinking it as sometimes happens when things change there.
    a trichitza would be too much to hope for…

  3. actually — not that i’m the expert on this, but as far as i understand it, they did just make the womyn’s section a lot bigger. (i remember hearing equal to the size of the men’s section, but maybe i’m wrong?)
    okay, BUT —
    (and i apologize if this gets too ranty)
    — i think that people equating the need for there to be an equal/larger women’s section at the Kotel with the desire for a “trichitza” is not just adding apples and oranges, but it’s dangerous and even damaging to feminism and the feminist movement.
    i’m all for a bigger women’s section. hell, a lot of the time i’ve been there, there have been more women than men (and men davening are used to being squished together, anyway). but i refuse to daven at a place with a “trichitza”, and not just because i feel like it’s demeaning to those womyn and men who want to sit separately. we’re not doing it because we hate girls (or boys). we’re not doing it because we don’t want to see them (or hear them, or whatever else). we’re doing it because we want to participate in a service run the way that orthodox halacha says. and doing it any other way is, FOR US, like having shabbos services while someone’s tape-recording us, or holding up a cell phone, or podcasting.

  4. woah matthue
    you don’t have to like a trichitza. you don’t have to sit in that section if tis against your understanding of halacha. egal davening is not demeaning to you or anyone else who wants to sit separately, and/or follow orthodox rules about who counts/participates and I have no problem respecting your choice.
    but tis your choice, not mine.
    My choice is to daven as part of a minyan, in a service that fully includes everyone and gives men and women alike the opportunity to lead and read. currently there is no space where I can do this (the southern wall, but they charge there).
    There’s always at least half a dozen services going on at the kotel. How does one more hurt you’re ability to aprticipate in your orthodox minyan?
    I’m not asking to interfere with the men and women who want to sit separately. But if you all have the right to daven the way you want, why dont I?
    and if you get so pissed off at me being able to daven the way I want at the kotel that you refuse to come, take a moment to remember that reason our tradition gives us for why teh temple was destroyed.
    sinat chinam, senseless hatred, right?

  5. The western wall plaza was built at the expense of people’s *homes*.
    I think that’s a good enough reason why God would not want us to daven there.

  6. zt– halevai. . .
    matthue– I’ve been back in the states since June; the last expansion I’m aware off expanded straight back, e.g. same proportions. but then the new ramp took a chunk off of it.
    I don’t think anyone has equated an improved women’s section with trichitza, we’ve just been listing our ‘druthers.
    could you explain how you see trichitza as demeaning to those who want to sit separately? as I understand it, trichitza enables them to continue to do so, at no expense of their religious identities and/or comfort zones. and how is it dangerous to feminism?
    as you point out, the space issue is problematic; also a problem that women are cut off from any form of communal prayer (even non-minyan women’s tfila). all they can do is sqash along the mechitza and strain to hear– which is demeaning.
    I would also argue that it is problematic for a site that is all of our religious heritage, be considered an orthodox shul, when that goes against many Jewish people’s religious idenities and beliefs
    sarah m– I love you very much.
    amit– ouch,, you’re right. add another to my list of “why Rebecca has a conflicted relationship with the kotel”

  7. I read the link– yeah, they’re talking about removing that ramp, which would restore the women’s section to it’s pre-earthquake but still too small proportions

  8. Also, for you Orthodox out there: there is absoloutley no connection between the 50 years old issue of mechitza which may or may not be required, and the much stronger ban on Electricity on shabbat (which was probably meant to be deoraita by matthue).
    i.e.: FOR THEM – its worse to be recorded on shabbat than to daven with no mechitza. Ever see a mechitza at the minyan on the plane, or the train station or the wedding?

  9. Amit–true, though I think it’s more like 150 years than 50 years, I looked into it once.
    (for the record folks, we are discussing the appearance of mechitza in halachic writings, NOT it’s appearance in synagogue architechture. It comes rather out of nowhere, halachically. and no, I don’t agree with that the simchat beit hashoeva balcony is a proof text, seeing as shul’s NOT a wild party with a really high chance of people hooking up then and there)

  10. Minyan shelanu’s singing kicks ass if you’re male; at least last time I was there. Women’s side – kind of sad. I blew my voice out trying to balance with the men – and I can sing, yo. Definitely markedly male-centric, despite reb Raz’s sweet heart and honest intentions – clearly the vortex of energy is on the other side of the mechitza. As is often the case.

  11. matthue,
    you clearly have some strong and heartfelt views on this set of issues. my sense of the tricheitza solution, is that by having a mens’, women’s, and mixed section, nearly everyone gets what they want and no one is subjected to spaces they’d prefer not to daven in.
    if you are a man or women who prefers gender-segregated space, as many do, than you go to one of those spaces, if you prefer mixed gender space then you go to the third space.
    i don’t quite understand the podcasting or tape recording analogy. my assumption is that the people in the mixed section aren’t likely to pay any attention to what is going on elsewhere.
    so, what’s the problem?

  12. re: the discussion of the importance of mechitza vs. other mitzvot, if you look at pre-’67 pictures of the western wall, there was no mechitza, but Orthodox men and women did not hesitate to pray there (when it was open to Jews).

  13. Interesting note, mechitza and temple -wise: The Qumranic Temple Scroll mandates that the commoners be placed in wooden booths overlooking the temple courtyard to overlook the Sukkot festivities in the temple so they should not enter where they aren’t supposed to.
    Pharisaic sukkot was a time of blurry limits: the people were shown the inside of the temple, they approached the altar, they libated water. The point of the “tiqqun gadol” was to make sure the limits were not streched further (and also to keep the women out).
    All this to point out that the “proof” for mechitza is not only ludicrous, it is also out of the original context.
    Oh, and hi Sarah and Rebbeca. Now I finally have proof you are two different people

  14. Amit– I’d thought you might be that Amit who’s dating YK. and technically, you still don’t have proof 🙂 perhaps you will one day . . . chag sameach, regards to YK.

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