Minister of Religious Services (Bayit Yehudi) Naftali Bennett is working to accommodate the Women of the Wall (WoW) Organization ahead of Rosh Hashanah. Bennett announced a designated broad prayer area will be set up to accommodate the women located south of the Rambam (Mughrabi) Gate to Har Habayis near Robinson’s Arch.
Realizing the WoW organization is planning a slichos event, Bennett is providing a tefilla area to accommodate 450 women. “I am not willing to see infighting in the Jewish People in this Holy Site before Rosh Hashanah” Bennett told the media. “We must channel these energies towards tefilos, slichos and unity and maintaining the status quo at the Kosel” he added.
Bennett explains this will bring an end to the monthly fighting, referring to the WoW Rosh Chodesh prayer events while permitting the current men’s and women’s sections to remain as is. He hopes the designation of the new area, which is being done in coordination with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency for Israel, will be viewed as an acceptable solution by all involved.
The area near Robinson’s Arch is being called the Ezrat Yisrael area, and it will be open to men and women alike.
Responding to Bennett’s announcement was WoW Chairperson Anat Hoffman, who told Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) “We cannot permit thugs to decide our policy. I am willing to talk with Minister Bennett immediately minute and give him some excellent suggestions that will not hurt anyone’s feelings.”
Hoffman added that she and her colleagues respect the feelings of others but nonetheless, she will not accept Bennett’s alternate prayer site.
Officials explain the site allocated by Bennett, the PM’s Office and Jewish Agency is not at the Kosel itself, but adjacent. They add the location would not be used for weddings or britot.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)