By Sherwin Pomerantz
The ministering angels in heaven found the Lord crying this morning and asked why this was the case? The Lord responded saying “Some of my children have decided that other of my children should not be able to visit me in my house.” The angels were confused and asked for an explanation.
The Lord related how just yesterday the government that controls the land that the Lord had promised to his children for eternity, decided under pressure from the Lord’s more observant children that many of those children who pray differently to the Lord can no longer do so in the holiest Jewish site in the world. And if that was not enough that there is also a movement afoot to make it impossible for those who want to become adopted children of the Lord to do so only through the efforts of specific self-appointed authorities who seemingly are more concerned about their own retention of power than what the Lord wants.
The angels were stunned. They said to the Lord, “Perhaps you are mistaken. After all you yourself know that you are omnipresent and that your children can approach you anywhere in the world, whether it is in Jerusalem or in Iowa City, London or Santiago and even no matter where within each city they choose to connect with you. They do not even have to go to a synagogue to beseech you let alone to Jerusalem.”
The Lord thought for a moment and answered: “Of course you are correct. But for millennia my children have been praying for a return to Jerusalem and in Jerusalem itself they consider approaching the last remaining supporting wall of my holy temple a special place. So while they can approach me anywhere this particular space has special meaning to them and, like any good parent, if it means so much to my children then it is important to me as well.”
The angels thought a bit more and said: “Lord, of course you are correct and now we understand why you are crying. How dare a small group of your children arrogate unto themselves the right to decide for all of the others in what manner your children should approach you. How dare they decide to take a place where for hundreds of years all of your children who could make it there, prayed together without any gender separation, that now this should become an Orthodox synagogue only? And how dare they make demands on their siblings, your children, to abide by their rules in contravention of what the others believe? And how do they know that they are right and the others are wrong?”
And so, rather than console the Lord, the ministering angels themselves wept as well. They wept for those descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who incorrectly vision themselves as having all the right answers. They wept for the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who now find themselves classified as second class citizens within Judaism, the religion of their ancestors. They wept for the leadership of the government of Israel whose elected officials are unable to stand up to the self-righteous among them. And they wept in support of the Lord whose disappointment in the actions of some of his children was palpable.
For 2,000 years Jews have prayed to be able to return to Zion. All Jews within whom the flame of tradition burned, regardless of their particular approach to faith, prayed for that return. Today, when the dream has been realized, when those of us living here have successfully built a country that is the technological envy of the world, when all people now have the right to come to Jerusalem and pray as their heart dictates, shame on those Jews who choose to disenfranchise other Jews by telling them how to pray. And shame on those religious leaders who, in the name of God, claim that only they will decide who is and who is not a Jew.
Today the Lord is crying because parents should never be denied the right to see their children. The minyanim (prayer groups) in heaven are reciting mi-sheberachs (supplications) hoping that the Lord’s children will see the light. Let us hope that their prayers will be answered and that the leadership here on earth will not cause any more pain to those above who watch over all of us with so much concern and compassion.
Sherwin Pomerantz is a 33 year resident of Jerusalem, President of Atid EDI Ltd., a Jerusalem-based business development consulting firm, past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel and currently Israel Board Chairperson of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.