From The Times of Israel. Thousands of worshipers attended a Sunday prayer event at the Western Wall for unity held by Jews on opposite sides of the judicial overhaul, as the Knesset began its debate ahead of a vote on the first bill in the contentious legislative package.
Many participants in the prayer event in Jerusalem, co-organized by politicians and rabbis from across the political spectrum, then proceeded to march from the holy site to a rally for unity outside the Israel Museum, near the Knesset.
The event is one of several organized and promoted in recent months for people with opposing views of the overhaul, in attempts to encourage unity amid polarization around the government’s plan to dramatically weaken the judiciary.
Among the organizers of Sunday’s prayer and rally were moderate rabbis and conservatives, including Rabbi David Stav of the Tzohar group, as well as prominent individuals, including Benny Gantz, leader of the opposition National Unity party and opponent of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and its judicial overhaul.
“As we near Tisha B’Av, we are in dire straits, at the edge of a precipice,” Stav told The Times of Israel en route to the rally.
Tisha B’Av is a day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE, and then of its replacement in 421 or 423 BCE. The date, which is widely seen as a reminder of ruination owing to national disunity, this year falls on July 27.
“At times like this, we cannot let such a date pass by without calling on every Jew to contemplate its significance in the current context,” Stav said.
Malka Puterkovsky, an influential teacher of the Talmud who lives in the settlement of Tekoa, described the event as “a rare source of optimism these days.”
Puterkovsky said she was inspired by “the diversity of participants, ranging from Orthodox rabbis to leaders of the protest including Shikma Bressler.” . . .
The prayer coincides with a fateful week for the debate on the overhaul. . . . .
Organizers encouraged participants to hold hands and form a human chain extending from the Western Wall to the Israel Museum.