Published On: Sun, Jan 31st, 2016

Cabinet approves ‘historic’ decision to create Western Wall egalitarian prayer space



The Israeli government agrees to create separate expansion of a mixed-gender, non-orthodox prayer space at Western Wall in compromise,  in a Cabinet meeting Sunday.

No formal vote was taken on the plan due to ultra-Orthodox reservations it would be perceived as recognition of non-Orthodox groups.

Reform, Masorti movements say compromises were necessary, haredim vote against decision but did not fight to defeat it.

The new area, called Azarat Yisrael, is to be located in the Western Wall plaza’s southernmost corner underneath Robinson’s Arch, which has already been frequently used for egalitarian prayer services.

The Women of the Wall group, which fights for women’s rights to pray at Judaism’s holiest accessible site, hailed the cabinet decision. The group wrote on its Facebook page:

Revolution for Women and Jewish Pluralism in Israel: Government

approves Mendelblit Plan for a third, pluralist prayer section at the Western Wall.
In approving this plan, the state acknowledges women’s full equality and autonomy at the Kotel and the imperative of freedom of choice in Judaism in Israel.

Original Women of the Wall, a group which broke away from the Women of the Wall group over internal strife, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that it will not consider itself bound by any agreement between WoW and the government, and will continue to hold prayer services at the Western Wall.

“If you look at the charter of WOW from 20 years ago it talks of prayer in the women’s section of the Western Wall. We are thrilled if other groups want to pray at the Robinson’s Arch site, but that is not what we will do, ” Cheryl Birkner Mack, a leading member of OWOW, told The Jerusalem Post.

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel will vote against the plan. He said ” it harms the Jewish tradition and will lead to unnecessary conflict.”

The controversial plan is also opposed by ultra-Orthodox lawmakers, who announced they intend to block funding for it.



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