Central Conference of American Rabbis
Deplores Netanyahu's Government's Reversal
on Kotel Compromise
 

The Central Conference of American Rabbis condemns the Israeli government's announcement today that it is officially freezing implementation of its January, 2016 compromise agreement to create space for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel equal in stature to the Orthodox sections for gender-segregated prayer, which would remain fully intact.

Reform rabbis recall the moving egalitarian worship service we held at that designated section at the southern end of the Kotel, when we were gathered in convention in Jerusalem in February, 2016. Nevertheless, the Robinson's Arch area of the Kotel, slated for the future Ezrat Yisrael or "section for all Israel," may best be currently described as a makeshift prayer space, in no way comparable with the sections of the Kotel set aside for gender-segregated Orthodox worship.

Today's decision calls into question whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a man of his word. The Prime Minister, whose name is on the January, 2016 agreement on behalf of his government, has apparently caved in to the extremist views of his ultra-Orthodox (Hareidi) coalition partners. Moreover, this decision further strains the relationship between Diaspora Jews and Israel, and makes it increasingly difficult for our rabbis to make the case of support for Israel.

The prophet Isaiah, preaching of a messianic future about the Temple itself, prophesied, "Let my House be a House of prayer for all people." Our pre-messianic goal is more modest, that the Kotel could be a place of prayer for all Jews. The Kotel is a powerful symbol but unfortunately one that exemplifies the inequalities and indignities to which Reform, Conservative and other non-Orthodox Jews are subjected in the Jewish State every day.

Reform Rabbis join our Reform and Conservative Movement partners -- and our Orthodox partners, too, along with Jewish communities worldwide -- who will continue to struggle on behalf of Jewish religious equality at the Kotel and throughout Israel.

 

Rabbi David E. Stern Rabbi Steven A. Fox
President Chief Executive

 

Central Conference of American Rabbis