I was going to title this article in a much harsher way. It was to be called “The Surrender of Orthodoxy.” But I decided that the questions that I have for Orthodoxy are so painfully obvious that I must be misunderstanding something. Perhaps I need things explained to me more clearly. Also, our focus now really needs to be what is happening in Ukraine, so I don’t want to be a startling distraction from that critical matter.

As you are aware, there is a struggle for the k’dushah of the Kotel taking place at this time. The Reform and Conservative movements, accompanied by WOW (Women Of the Wall), have been making the Kotel as their staging area to fight for their rights to hold their services there almost on an equal footing with the traditional areas of prayer. They want non-mechitzah and women-led services, as well as Torah reading by women, right in the main plaza. The venue is the Kotel, but their target is American Jewry.

The fact that they hardly make routine use of their current designated area on the southern flank of the Temple area is irrelevant. The fact that the Reform never prayed for the return to Jerusalem or to the Beis HaMikdash is irrelevant, as well. The Conservative have also stricken from their liturgy any reference to the restoration of korbanos. The decimation wrought by Reform and Conservative Judaism to American Jewry is epic: about 80% intermarriage rate and almost no observance of standard Jewish tradition, such as kashrus outside the home. Mikvah? Are you kidding?

Yet the Kotel has become a great political prop for them. Play on the sympathies of the secular world, coddled by the secular media, and you can show to the world that you are alive and significant. Thus, on Rosh Chodesh, you can count on them to show up as men and women blur in their colorful garb and their roles in leading the services. Any opposition is magnified by the media to be rowdy and mean-spirited. Got to hand it to them: It’s great political theater.

However, last Friday, Rosh Chodesh Adar II, thousands of young chareidi seminary girls showed up to the Kotel under the direction of Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita as well as other g’dolim. With sheer numbers, they did not allow the Reform/Conservative circus to go on. My granddaughter from Chicago was there. She said it was a true kiddush Hashem. No screaming, no lobbing items, no craziness. Just a dignified display of what that special place means to them.

I had always assumed that when the media described the opposition to the Reform antics at the Kotel as “Ultra-Orthodox,” it was the media’s attempt to marginalize those opponents. Now I see it’s really the case. The opposition is largely chareidi. And here in the States, the Modern Orthodox organizations have been stone silent. To his credit, Rabbi Moshe Hauer of the OU wrote an excellent piece on the topic in The Jerusalem Post, but otherwise, rabbanim and organizations here (with the exception of the Agudah/Am Echad) have been AWOL.

So, my dear reader, if you live in the Five Towns, in Bergen County, or in Boca Raton, ask your local rabbi the following: Why have we not heard from you or your rabbinic/lay organizations on the Kotel matter? What issue cuts to the heart of Judaism more than the Kotel? Is it true that you have been telling people you are supportive of the fight for the Kotel but cannot speak up about it? Is it true that in Boca Raton, Mort Klein of the ZOA was not allowed to speak in Orthodox shuls, for fear he is too right-wing, but was given an audience in a Conservative synagogue?

Please do not allow your rabbi or any organization to tell you that they are “working behind the scenes.” That is an insult.

I think this approach of not wanting to appear as obstructionist and the need to remain in the big picture with the rest of organized Jewry can be dated back to the early 1960s. In those years, many of the g’dolei Yisrael signed a proclamation that it was forbidden for organized Orthodox Jewry to join forces with the Reform or Conservative. Their intention then was the now-defunct Synagogue Council of America. The fear was that co-joining will blunt the great hashkafic divide between Orthodoxy and the others.

Although those rabbanim were considered antiquated reactionaries, it looks like time has proven them right. Organized Modern Orthodoxy does not feel comfortable to this day in expressing any outward opposition to their non-Orthodox colleagues. They might be left out of the “boys’ club.”

Like I said, I might have it all wrong. But if any of you can offer me a better explanation, perhaps offered by the rabbi you ask, please let me know.

Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.