October 7, 2013
Women of the Wall Vote to Lead the Jewish People towards Change: Three Equal Sections at the Western Wall
Anat Hoffman, “We are not leaving the women’s section right now and we reserve the right to prayer freely as a public holy site. However, we are prepared to be the catalyst and leaders of building a new, equal third section for all Jews to pray and celebrate at the Western Wall. When that is completed to our satisfaction, we will pray there.”
After going through a comprehensive and emotionally trying decision-making process, Women of the Wall’s multi-denominational Executive Board has voted in vast majority to create a future in which, under the right conditions, the women’s prayer group would pray in an equal and fully integrated third section of the Kotel. The new area will be governed not by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz but by a board of Jewish leaders, including equal representation of women, who value women’s prayer and reject all forms of violence. The process to create an equal, third space for prayer at the Western Wall will be lengthy and Women of the Wall maintain that until all of their conditions and specifications are met for the third section, women’s prayer stays where it belongs: in the women’s section of the Western Wall.
Hoffman said, “It is with great pain and sadness that we began to consider this new strategy, but we must be agents of change. We have decided today to stand on the tips of our toes to look into the future. We must rise above our internal conflict in order to build the future we want for our daughters.”
A far cry from the area known today as “Robinson’s Arch”, Women of the Wall have a very clear vision of the potential future. This vision includes but is not limited to: one entrance and one national plaza for all three sections, as well as full equality between the three sections- from budget to topography. A space where women are allowed to govern and lead, where girls can read Torah freely and celebrate their bat mitzvah with great joy and pride, the new section promises to reflect the makeup and spirit of the Israeli people and the Jewish people. Women of the Wall continue to demand change from Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who will have to loosen his grip in order to share the holy space. Likewise, the women have required change of themselves, to lead the charge for this vision.
While the conditions for this process are still being hashed out among the group and will be presented within the week to the Prime Minister’s Commission led by Avichai Mendelblit, the wheels have indeed been put in motion for the women to take their rightful seat at the architects table, to create a national space for Jewish and Israelis to pray free from persecution and religious coercion.
For twenty-five years Women of the Wall has continued to fight for religious freedom and women’s rights at the Western Wall. As Women of the Wall, our central mission is to achieve the social and legal recognition of our right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall.
Director of Public Relations
4 thoughts on “Women of the Wall Vote to Lead the Jewish People towards Change: Three Equal Sections at the Western Wall”
I am VERY VERY PROUD to be a part of the WOW Sisterhood. This was not an easy decision but it reflects the Sharansky Plan which in my opinion, is very balanced. It is important to note that WOW will continue to gather as usual in the Women’s Section until the clearly articulated conditions have been met by the Israeli government. THIS IS SOCIAL CHANGE BEFORE OUR VERY EYES. Passionate Zionists need to raise their voice and give support to this plan as change will not come easy. Those who do not respect the rights of all Jews, regardless of gender or adjective, to pray freely will not be happy that Women are at the architect’s table. Unhappy people have the potential to behave in offensive ways. In other words, the struggle for equality is far from over. This decision by WOW is historic but we should all remember, this is just another step in the long hakafah that will lead the Jewish People to Religious Freedom in Israel.
I two think that this is a historic day,this is.The Jewish Homeland and all women should be able to feel free to,pray at the wall!!!Unfortunately due to physical problems that I have,walk with a walker!!!Therefore it makes it hard for me to come.But you women are always in my prayers!!!!That you go from “Strength to Strength”
It makes sense. Having visited the Robinson’s Arch location two weeks ago, moving though it is to see the newly erected platforms and access to the wall, it is distinctly separate from the Wall where the current men and women’s sections are. In fact, it is separated by the bridge leading to the Dome on the Rock and a physical wall. Separate is not equal. I agree that WOW should continue its advocacy for a section of egalitarian equality, dividing the current wall where prayer is permitted into thirds.
Having met with Anat Hoffman last week when I was in Jerusalem with the Beth El Women on a Mission tour, I was very impressed and came away with a much better understanding of the pressures on Israeli women today. By wearing the Women of the Wall Tallit, I stand proud and will continue to show my support.