Since the end of Shabbat much has happened at the Western Wall about the Western Wall. Here is an article that summarizes the situation.
Yesterday, it was reported that Cabinet Minister Avichai Mendelblit has proposed a new solution that counters the Sharansky proposal. Here is an article about Mendelblit’s proposal.
Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center explains what is going on. (It is a little hard to hear the beginning because of the wind, stick with it).
Women of the Wall is holding a sit-in. Here is an onsite report:
The Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reform rabbinic body has issued the following statement:
CCAR Statement Concerning Recent Developments Regarding the Kotel:
The Sharansky proposal, developed in partnership with denominational leaders of American Jewry, envisions “one Western Wall for one Jewish People,” symbolizing that all Jews have a valued and recognized place at the Kotel, in Israel, and in Jewish life.
The fundamental principles of the Sharansky plan are clearly defined and critically important: creating an area for egalitarian/pluralistic prayer to the right of the ramp to the Temple Mount, an area equal in size and elevation to the existing prayer zone; secure, common, and equal physical access to both the gender-segregated and the egalitarian/pluralistic areas on a 24/7/365 basis; common entries to the public plaza leading to all sections; governance of the egalitarian/pluralistic prayer area and the public plaza outside the present prayer areas by a pluralistic body under the aegis of the Jewish Agency, including leaders of liberal Jewish Movements, rather than the present, Orthodox-dominated Western Wall Heritage Foundation; and transforming the WWHF to reflect the diversity of Jewish belief and practice in Israel and among the Jewish People.
While this plan fell considerably short of what the Reform Movement sought, we have expressed willingness to accept its compromises in the interest of shalom bayit.
Solving the issues presented by the Kotel situation is essential to Jewish Unity and Israel’s strategic interests. We urge the Prime Minister’s office, in the strongest possible terms, to commit itself to the Sharansky proposal in its entirety, promptly, publicly, and unequivocally, to formulate both interim and permanent plans consistent with that proposal in partnership with all key stakeholders and to refrain from presenting a proposal until those vital tasks are accomplished.
The steps announced today by Interior Minister Naftali Bennett concerning Robinson’s Arch, whatever their merits, fall far short of the Sharansky proposal in both substance and process. Fortunately, it appears that press reports that the Government was about to release a unilateral plan inconsistent with the Sharansky proposal were erroneous. If the opportunity for a collaborative process and solution is missed and a plan is put forward that diverges in material respects from the Sharansky proposal, it will exacerbate the tensions so many have worked hard to defuse and set back a process in which so much productive effort has been invested.
Rabbi Richard A. Block, President
Rabbi Steve Fox, Chief Executive
For the CCAR Board of Trustees
Have I mentioned how proud I am to be a member of the CCAR? You can support them (and thereby me and all of my Reform rabbinic colleagues) here.
I make no secret of my support for Women of the Wall, the Israel Religious Action Center and an end to the Western Wall as an Orthodox synagogue.
This is a crucial moment for religious pluralism in Israel.
Here is the statement made jointly by the various organizations of the Reform Movement.
August 25, 2013, New York, NY– In response to Minister of Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett’s announcement today regarding upgrades at the Kotel, the Reform Movement released the following statement:“The Kotel is a powerful symbol of the Jewish yearning for Israel and for the unity of the Jewish people. As such, it needs to be open and free to all Jews; women and men must be treated equally there.
That is precisely why we joined together with Jews from across the religious spectrum to endorse a plan by Jewish Agency Chairperson Natan Sharansky which, in its entirety, promises full equality for all streams of Judaism at the Kotel.
The temporary platform unveiled today by Minister of Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett, is a gesture of good will, but it is, at best, a very small step forward in the implementation of the full plan for full Jewish equality at the Kotel. Were it to be the first and last step regarding the Kotel, it would create a painful and unnecessary conflict within the Jewish People.
We urge the Prime Minister’s office to maintain its commitment to the Sharansky proposal consistent with a partnership with all key stakeholders.
In the meantime, the Reform Movement insists that no changes will be made in the current legal situation allowing Women of the Wall to pray according to their custom in the Western Wall site.
We hope and pray that 5774 will be a year of ever deepening partnership between the State of Israel and World Jewry in insuring that in Judaism’s holiest place there is room for each and every member of our people to pray freely and openly. May that spirit of respect and inclusion permeate daily life in the Jewish State and in our communities all across the globe.”ARZAARZA CanadaARZENUCentral Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR)Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ)Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ)Women’s Rabbinic Network (WRN)World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ)