WOW Responds: Looking to the Future

March 10, 2014

Dear Friends,

Several months ago, Women of the Wall made a difficult decision to seize the opportunity to envision and design a new future for the Western Wall. In this vision, a third section would be created, equal and fully integrated with the Kotel.

A few of our sisters object to our decision to negotiate with the government. They say that we are giving up some of our shared vision and dream. They are right. We are compromising in order to change reality at the wall today. We are staunch idealists but also flexible pragmatists at the same time.

When idealists face a complex reality they can make one of two choices: They can be flexible pragmatists or hold on to the original vision and pure ideals. Both are legitimate paths.

We believe that we have reached a historic moment in a time of unique political, legal and public opinion and realities. The board  seeks to take advantage of this opportunity from a place of power. Women of the Wall continues this brave two-pronged strategy: negotiation with the government for a prayer space at the Kotel which allows all Jews to pray freely, while continuing to pray in the women’s section and pursue all of our rights to prayer there.

As a point of clarification, Women of the Wall is (unfortunately) not the Authority responsible for future changes of norms in the women’s section. We are fighting to have all women’s prayer free and decriminalized at the Kotel. Though as always, it is the Israeli government and specifically, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz who has been appointed to manage the Kotel; and ultimately make the decisions regarding it.. This would be true whether or not we were negotiating with the government. The question here is:  Why do our sisters who wish to continue to pray in the women’s section in the event that a third section will be built, choose to censure Women of the Wall instead of challenging Rabinowitz’s authority?

These women are falsely accusing us of conducting organizational matters unlawfully or dishonestly. The Israeli authorities have awarded us a certificate of excellent conduct.

We are saddened by this public attack made by some of our founding sisters. We have always listened and valued their voices, even if in this instance  they did not agree with the Board of Director’s majority vote. The 2013 yearly General Assembly was held June 2013, as the law requires. Attendance at the General Assembly and all other meetings on the decision to negotiate which took place in October 2013, included two board members whose role it was to listen to the concerns of our supporters/founders and represent their opinions before the board. In addition, Women of the Wall held an open, international conference call in November 2013 to hear the questions and concerns about the proposed negotiation and we responded openly to all questions. Our sisters who chose to disagree with us were also given the opportunity to present their views in various forums during events surrounding our 25th Anniversary. It is disingenuous to say that this issue has not been given public debate and discussion by Women of the Wall.

Looking forward to the future,

Women of the Wall

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