Women of the Wall, Jewish Leaders Meet with Prime Minister

Women of the Wall Statement

In reaction to today’s meeting with the Prime Minister, Women of the Wall share in the great disappointment of Jews around the world in the delayed implementation of the agreement passed by the government on January 31, 2016 for the creation of a pluralist prayer section at the Western Wall. Women of the Wall call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to stand up to the ultra-Orthodox attempts to derail the the plan, not to give in to the bullying and pressure of the Haredi lawmakers who wish to exclude women and non-Orthodox Jews from Jewish life in Israel. Women of the Wall look to the government to make the equality of women and the inclusion of ALL Jews, a central, high priority by taking significant steps to implement this plan in the coming weeks.
Women of the Wall continue to pray in the women’s section and struggle for religious freedom at the holy site with the Torah. In order to read Torah, Women of the Wall must enter the Western Wall covertly with a Torah, an act which evokes to memory some of the darkest days in Jewish history. Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Administrator of the Western Wall and Holy Places, has created a catch 22 for women at the Western Wall: he prohibits entrances with private Torah scrolls and refuses women access to the 100 scrolls he holds at the Kotel for public use in the men’s section. Rabbi Rabinowitz believes that women who wish to read from the Torah and hear the Torah reading are a “provocation.”

Despite the great challenges facing them, Women of the Wall’s achievements over the past few years have included several bat mitzvah ceremonies, both Israelis and families from abroad, who celebrated with Torah scrolls in the women’s section.

Women of the Wall will gather next week, Tuesday, June 7, 2017 at 7AM in the women’s section of the Western Wall for monthly prayers, with a Torah scroll.

Joint Statement Issued by the The Jewish Federations of North America JUNE 1, 2016, JERUSALEM

Today, a delegation of senior North American Jewish leaders, representing the Jewish Federations of North America, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, the Conservative/Masorti movements, and Women of the Wall, together with Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky, held an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to discuss the failure to implement the Kotel Agreement that was voted into law by the Cabinet on January 31, 2016.

The Jewish leaders praised Prime Minister Netanyahu for his continued leadership on this issue and urged him to ensure that the agreement can be implemented immediately. The leaders, who have flown to Israel for the urgent consultations with the Prime Minister, expressed their significant disappointment at the fact that the Cabinet resolution has not been implemented. At the time of the signing, the agreement was hailed as a breakthrough in religious relations, proving that compromise could be reached between diverse groups and different interests. Despite Cabinet approval, ultra-Orthodox parties are blocking implementation, and the Prime Minister requested a 60-day period to consider ways to move forward. Today’s meeting was timed to coincide with the end of that period. The negotiated agreement involved significant compromises undertaken by the Federation, Reform, Conservative and Women of the Wall partners, but were accepted in the name of Jewish unity.

The Women of the Wall, who have advocated for pluralistic prayer rights at the Kotel for decades, will, according to the agreement, continue to hold their regular prayer services at the current Kotel prayer areas until the agreed upon arrangements are fully implemented.

The leaders in attendance represent the broad base of the pro-Israel community in the United States.

Following the meeting, the leaders stated, “Admittedly we are frustrated, however we look forward to measurable progress being made in the coming weeks. Millions of Jews in Israel and around world are looking to the Israeli government to implement this agreement and in doing so, to give respect to Jews everywhere, honoring all expressions of Judaism.”

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