Gafne Appears to be Compromising on Kosel Egalitarian Prayer Area

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gafFor the first time in recent months a chareidi Member of Knesset has delivered what is being viewed as a conciliatory message. MK Moshe Gafne in an address to the Degel Hatorah Kenos on Tuesday 26 Adar-II and later in an interview with Haaretz, began with policy messages. He reiterated that gedolim have not and will not accept Reform Jewry and as such, Degel Hatorah will never change its policy and will not have any connection with the Reform.

However, what has changed is that while he did not say so in so many words, Gafne stated numerous times “What existed before is fine but what has been added will not be and never be acceptable to us”, mentioning what “Rav Wosner and Rav Elyashiv approved is acceptable”.

Gafne was referring to Robinson’s Arch, which has been operating since 2003. He added in his conversation with Haaretz that he can live with the egalitarian prayer area for the Reform and Conservative providing it has separate entrances and exits from the Kosel area.

Gafne began the day’s remarks at the party conference in Kibbutz Chafetz Chaim. He explained that the arrangement involving Robinson’s Arch was accepted by Maran HaGaon HaRav Sholom Elyashiv ZT”L and HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Halevy Wosner ZT”L and that is all that will be accepted, not any changes.

In his interview with Haaretz Gafne detailed, explaining “we don’t want any contact with them whatsoever” and that is why there must be separate entrances and exits from the Kosel area.

Haaretz quotes the Reform Movement responding with the following statement:

“We welcome the willingness of the chareidi politicians to prefer the path of compromise of dispute and quarrel. Nevertheless, the joint entrance is a central condition. Each layout is based on the idea of a single national site with two prayer areas. Moreover, the matter of a joint entrance was approved by Kosel Rav Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz with the knowledge of Moshe Gafne and Yaakov Litzman as well as Aryeh Deri. Chareidim who have difficult with this are invited to enter the north gate of the plaza”.

Chareidi journalist Benny Rabinowitz, who is close to Degel Hatorah MKs explained to Kol Chai Radio on Wednesday morning 27 Adar-II that the backing for the egalitarian area with separate entrances is a must for if not, the matter will find itself in the High Court and this will result in the chilul Hashem at the Kosel itself, instead of at Robinson’s Arch.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)