AN Israeli man has been indicted for issuing threats of violence against prominent Reform figures – prompting one of them to warn that bloodshed may be on the horizon at the Western Wall.
The 39-year-old resident of the prominently ultra-Orthodox city Bnei Brak was indicted on Monday for leaving three threatening letters, written in red and placed under a knife, at a Reform synagogue in Ra’anana last year. According to the indictment the letters told the addressees to “stop their activity and repent, otherwise they would be severely hurt”.
On a nearby wall, the defendant is alleged to have spray-painted a rabbinic saying stressing the sanctity of the Western Wall – leading investigators to suspect he was angry about plans for a non-Orthodox prayer section at the Western Wall.
One of his targets was Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of Women of the Wall (WOW). She told The AJN, “It’s a relief that he has been found,” but added the fact he was prepared to go so far scares her. She predicted that if an end is not found to Jewish tensions at the Kotel, “There will be bloodshed at the wall.”
In a separate development, Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar this week delivered a bitter attack against the Reform movement, saying it wants to “desecrate the sacred.” He likened Reform to Holocaust deniers, claiming that the movement has revised history like deniers. Amar was responding to an attempt to return the Western Wall compromise to the agenda. The plan for a grand Reform and Conservative prayer section at the Kotel may be revived, after Israel’s Supreme Court decided that the state was wrong to “freeze” it.
Two months ago, the government incensed many Diaspora leaders, as well as activists in Israel, by halting a January 2016 plan for a large mixed-gender prayer plaza and some administrative clout for non-Orthodox organisations at the Kotel.
Supreme Court President Miriam Naor said that the government’s claim that it imposed a “freeze” on the agreement is meaningless in legal terms, and expressed surprise that the state worked hard to make an agreement with WOW and non-Orthodox leaders and then jettisoned it.
Judges gave the state until Thursday to decide if it will reconsider its decision. If it says no, the court will consider whether it has the power to impose the Kotel plan.