World Jewish News
Israel's President Rivlin calls for Jewish unity
01.08.2017, Israel and the World
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called for Jewish unity as he hosted a pre-Tisha B’Av cross-communal Torah sudy session in his Jerusalem residence.
“Destruction and exile has left us as the few. Yes, we are the few that are left of the Jewish people. We do not have the privilege to give up on any Jew or Jewess. We do have the privilege to be divided or to crumble,” he declared.
“Especially against a background of the violence surrounding the Temple Mount, and the continued attempts to deny Jewish history and the connection of the Jewish people to the Temple Mount, we must not turn the Kotel — the only surviving symbol we have of the Temple that was ploughed over — into a place of internal quarrels,” Rivlin added, in a reference to the recent controversy over the freezing of an Israeli government plan to build an egalitarian prayer area at the Western Wall.
On Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, he importance of Jewish unity is stressed. It is remembered throughout Jewish history as a day on which great calamities have befallen the Jewish people, including the Biblical ‘Sin of the Spies’ as recounted in Numbers (13-14), the destruction of the Jewish Temples in Jerusalem, the Expulsion from Spain, and the Liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto – among other sad historical events. The day is commemorated by fasting and reading the Book of Lamentations.
At the same presidential event, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, a former Prisoner of Zion — said, “When we were in the Soviet Union, we called the Western Wall the ‘Wailing Wall,’ as is common in various languages. Only once I undertook to help find a compromise at the wall many years later did I come to understand how accurate that description was. The Western Wall is both a religious site and a national symbol, and we were bequeathed it as an eternal inheritance. Whether it is a wall of tears or a wall of joy depends only on us.”