Should crucifixes and other evocative Christian images be barred from the Western Wall? I just got off the phone with an Orthodox rabbi who wasn’t so sure what the right response would have been when a group of Catholic bishops approached the Kotel yesterday in fall Christian regalia.
Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch refused to give the bishops access to the site and avoided meeting the ecclesiastic delegation of approximately 20, led by Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schonborn.
Rabinovitch denied that the incident, which took place Thursday, smacked of religious intolerance.
“Crosses are a symbol that hurts Jewish feelings,” said Rabinovitch who refused to elaborate on precisely how or why the crosses were so offensive.
“I feel the same way about a Jew putting on a tallit and phylacteries and going into a Church. I would be the first to rebuke such a Jew for not behaving like a mensch.” Rabinovitch added that he was surprised the Catholic clerics refused to hide their crosses.
“They did not have to take them off, just hide them. I’ve never encountered a Christian who has refused, including the Pope.”
This reminds me a bit of Ariel Sharon’s military-led visit to the Temple Mount in 2000, only the bishops’ visit, thank God, has not sparked a guerrilla war.