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Hiddush Praises New Egalitarian Prayer Area at the Kosel but Laments PM’s Ongoing Commitment to the Chareidi Parties

The KoselThe cabinet on Sunday, 21 Shevat, approved a prayer area for services including the Women of the Wall (WoW) wearing tallis and tefilin, reading from a Sefer Torah, and without a mechitzah, as was reported by YWN-ISRAEL. This area is south of the Kosel, close to Robinson’s Arch.

In response to the cabinet ruling, Hiddush President Rabbi Uri Regev said “much credit is due to the Reform movement, the Conservative movement, and the Women of the Wall for making the painful sacrifice of ceasing their demands of being allowed to hold egalitarian services and women’s minyanim at the traditional Western Wall plaza. While a section of the Wall, which hitherto functioned as an archeological garden, and had never operated under the dictates of the Orthodox rabbinic establishment, has now been designated as a pluralistic prayer space, it must be underscored that this compromise stipulates that the main Western Wall prayer plaza will officially remain under chareidi authority”.

While his response is not at all surprising, what is noteworthy is the fact that Regev and his colleagues feel that despite the unprecedented ruling by the cabinet, which many feel grants recognition to Conservative and Reform Jews, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu remains beholden to the chareidi parties, stating “In recent months, Prime Minister Netanyahu has sent very mixed messages regarding the equal status of the non-Orthodox streams in Israel – one for external consumption, abroad, and one for domestic Israeli policy. When Netanyahu speaks with leaders of the Diaspora Jewish community, he voices his support for equality, while the persistent discrimination and denial of key religious freedoms and equality within Israel only continues to degrade. The Ministry of Education’s recent, public freezing of funds designated in the State budget for Jewish renewal, intended for non-Orthodox and secular educational initiatives, serves as a clear reminder of this.

“The Western Wall compromise, which requires no concession on the part of the ultra-Orthodox, only further highlights the willingness of PM Netanyahu to trade away the core values of religious freedom and equality, in exchange for the religious parties’ votes, necessary to keep him and his party in power. Therefore, we expect the Western Wall agreement will simply be used as a smokescreen, aimed at convincing Diaspora Jewry that this represents the implementation of the PM’s promise to ensure that every Jew will feel at home in Israel, while in truth it avoids addressing the real issues that impact the lives and dignities of so many Israeli and Diaspora Jews. So, as welcomed as the Kotel compromise is, it must not distract world Jewry from the need for dramatic changes in Israel in such critical arenas as freedom of marriage and divorce, Who is a Jew, and state-sanctioned, religiously-based gender discrimination.”

Hence, many are pleased with the decision but the victory for the Reform and Conservative Movements is a bittersweet one while there is significant anger with chareidi elected officials from the frum community, many believing they should have stopped the cabinet decision from passing.

However, the chareidi MKs and ministers explain they feared by doing so the matter would have been brought to the nation’s Supreme Court and the outcome would have been far worse, with the court permitting their prayer services in an area of the Kosel or plaza.

The cabinet has allocated NIS 35 million to prepare the new prayer area and one of the questions is what will occur between now and the time it takes to be up and running, which some say may be a year or two.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

8 Responses

  1. A common sense compromise that allows everyone to pursue their own hashkafah without the theatrics of the monthly demonstrations which had become a real distraction and chilul hashem on both sides. Hopefully, this will settle the argument temporarily and maybe, b’yh, moishiach will come in the interim and HE will decide whether to have a designated davening area in the plaza of Bayis Shlishi for the Women of the Wall.

  2. the “pluralistic” prayer already exists south of the main prayer plaza and is almost always empty!What a waste of the Israeli taxpayer’s money to expand it for a few anti-religious zealots.

  3. So it’s OK for reform clergy to support the BDS initiative that harms Israel’s economy, while continuing to demand an anti-halacha prayer area that the Israeli taxpayer has to underwrite.

  4. To no.3

    Stop looking for logic and consistency on these issues…If it means “shalom bayis” or more precisely, “shalom HAR habayis”, than its worth spending a few NIS on this compromise that allows both sides to claim “victory”. Its certainly better than the usual rosh chodesh circus when you see some mindless chareidi zealots in their bekeshes and shtreimlach screaming obscenities at the women with their tallasim and tefillin and trying to grab away their sifrei torah.

  5. Let’s see Korach wasn’t happy with the position Hashem wanted him to be and what happened… These woman don’t want to be in the position Hashem wants them to be now what do you think will happen to them and there group…..

  6. #1 – how naive. Behavioral common sense dictates and has consistently demonstrated that capitulation only leads to further demands. Watch the space for traditional segregated prayer get smaller and smaller as reform makes inroads into Israeli society. Your attitude is the chillul Hashem.

  7. Gadol Hadorah,

    Based on following your posts for years, I believe you are unaware not aware of the damage done by these movements. There are no branches in Judaism. There is not one shulchan Aruch for Reform, and one for orthodox. The movements deny the divine divinity for the Torah..

    It’s either you are not aware, or perhaps I think you are a Reform-Reconstructionist Rabbi yourself. Your posts reflect your hashkafa.

    Maybe Uri Regev paid you off with all the money the Reform has.

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