What with the recent troubles the Women of the Wall have been causing at the Kotel, it's not surprising that the Conservative Movement is up in arms at the Wall's status as an Orthodox shul, in that prayers are expected to be conducted al pi halacha as opposed to al pi whatever makes one feel good and connected.
The article in question is full of the usual politically correct bafflegab about inclusion, freedom and the need for the Kotel to reflect the values of all Jews, along with a stirring conclusion that no enlightened non-Orthodox Jew could ignore:
We will continue to struggle for the Western Wall. Last Hanukkah the Masorati movement, along with other groups concerned with the growing extremism in Jerusalem, organized a candle lighting ceremony (mixed, Heaven forbid!) in the Kotel Plaza. Rabbi Gil Nativ, a Masorti rabbi who was among the paratroopers who freed the Kotel during the Six Day War, was honored with lighting one of the candles. When he concluded, he said that he well remembers the day the Kotel was liberated in 1967. Today, 42 years later, there is need to return the Kotel to all of the Jewish people. The Kotel needs to be liberated a second time.
Now, let's take a step back and look at the hypocrisy of the Conservatives demanding a say in how the Kotel runs, shall we?
Yes, the Conservative movement wears its affiliation with secular Zionism on its sleeve. As a former camper at one of the Ramah camps I can testify about the passion with which Israel is discussed and presented. My last summer in a Ramah as a camp doctor, I recall how Tisha B'Av itself was subverted from a day of mourning for the Temple into a celebration of the Zionist rebirth.
And perhaps this is where the Conservative protests against Orthodox control of the Kotel all fall apart. Consider Tisha B'av. While at Camp Ramah that summer I was informed by the Rosh Chinuch that many Conservatives only fast half a day because "Jerusalem is in our hands".
Really? So when at the end of the Trei Asar the people living in Yerushalayim after the return from Bavel ask, now that the Second Temple has been built, if they can abolish Tisha B'av and the other related community fasts, why did the Navi tell them "no"? And if the answer was no, how could it be any different today since the Temple Mount remains in the hands of our vitriolic enemies?
Let's take a step further. The Conservatives long ago abandoned the time honoured siddur for a prayer book that more accurately reflects their beliefs, called Sim Shalom. Amongst the significant differences from regular Orthodox siddurim, it completely removed any reference to the korbanos, or the Temple. In fact, an alternative Mussaf amidah eliminating any mention of the Temple or the sacrificial rites was instituted as well. The message was very clear: a longing for the rebuilding of the Temple along with an understanding that praying as we know it today is a substitute for "the real thing" was not a Conservative value.
So, put this together and what do you learn? That the Temple was and is not important to the Conservatives. A yearning for its rebuilding and a sense of loss at its absence are not part of Conservatism.
Given that, why do they care so much about the Kotel? Why insist on bringing their non-Orthodox method of worship to a place they have striven to remove from their litury and religion?
Perhaps its for nostalgic purposes, or perceived nationalist purposes. Perhaps its because since they too descend from 1800 years of Jews fervently praying for a chance to return to Yerushalayim, they still cannot admit they have no real interest in connecting to the true heart of the city. Perhaps it is all self-delusion.
But again, if that's the case, why should their inability to come to terms with the implications of their beliefs lead to inconvenience on my part with their politically correct shenanigans?