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28 Nissan 5760 - May 3, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Visitors from Abroad Unable to Enter Kosel Area on Yom Tov Sheini

by Betzalel Kahn

Residents of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem claimed last week that visitors from abroad were barred from the Kosel on Yom Tov Sheini of Pesach because they refused to pass through the electric gates, due to a chashash of yom tov desecration.

Menachem Ben-Shimon, a resident of the Jewish Quarter, lodged a complaint with a long list of communal leaders, among them UTJ Knesset and Municipality members, the official rabbi of the Sacred Sites, and the editorial board of Yated Ne'eman. In his letter, Ben-Shimon claims that a family member of his accompanied a family visiting from abroad who had walked to the Kosel from elsewhere in the city. The escort politely asked the guards at the barrier to allow the family to enter from the side without having to pass through the electric scanning gateway, and to search them by hand, since it was Yom Tov for them. The guard at the gate replied: "It's not America here. Either pass through it or return to the city."

A policeman from the Kosel headquarters who was summoned to the site retorted: "We don't take orders from you."

In his letter, Ben-Shimon also claimed that a prominent rav from the Jewish Quarter sought to bypass the electrical gate on his way to the Kosel on the last day of Pesach, but was refused. "For an entire year I haven't gone to the Kosel on Shabbos because of you," the rav told the guards at the gate. Due to pressure exerted by people at the site, at that time the guard was forced to give in.

The official rav of the Jewish Quarter, HaRav Avigdor Nebenzahl, has not davened at the Kosel on Shabbos for the past two months because he refuses to pass through the electric gate. The last time he tried to enter through other means the guards refused to let him pass and he was forced to pray alone near the barrier.

"This situation is intolerable and stems from the failure to give guards at the barrier clear instructions. This situation cannot continue," notes Ben-Shimon in his letter.

Rabbi of the Sacred Sites, Rav Shmuel Rabinowitz, sent an urgent letter to the police Commander of the Sacred Sites, Deputy Commander Niso Sachem, demanding that each of these cases be investigated. On erev Pesach Rabbi Rabinowitz examined the side exits beside the main entrance. The commander of the Kosel explicitly promised him that whoever wished to enter from the side would be allowed to do so.

The police say that the complaints will be dealt with promptly.

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