The faces of the 30 people celebrating their children’s Bar Mitzvahs Thursday at the southern plaza of the Western Wall did not reveal the huge storm that had erupted there last week.
Since the government decided to freeze the plan for an egalitarian prayer space, the American Jewish community has declared an emergency and launched a fight. Their anger is directed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who they say surrendered to pressure by ultra-Orthodox lawmakers. The big question is what caused those ultra-Orthodox (or Haredi) MKs, who just 18 months ago had silently approved the plan, to make a 180-turn and demand it be shelved.
According to people involved in the issue, the answer reveals an important fact with far-reaching significance for public life in Israel: a vacuum in the ultra-Orthodox leadership.