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
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