Women of the Wall

Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

The Women of the Wall

Adopted by the 101st Annual Convention of

the Central

Conference of American Rabbis

Seattle, Washington, June



“The Women of the Wall” is a religiously diverse group

composed of Israeli women and


Jewish women living in Israel. The group first started going to the


Wall, the Kotel, in January

1989. The women sought to continue the practice begun

by participants in the first International

Conference of Jewish Feminists in Jerusalem,

who held the first women’s service. All ensuing

services have been in strict accordance

with Jewish law (Halacha

). The group’s chief purpose and objective was and

remains spiritual expression and

mutual support to help each member enhance her experience of

prayer at the holy


The prayer services have been the target of

ultra-Orthodox violence, which the Ministry

of Religion and the police have tolerated and, in

the former case, even rationalized.

Shocked by this collusion with violence, the Israeli group

initiated a lawsuit before the Supreme Court of Israel to assure the

right of Jewish women to group prayer,

in peace and dignity, at the Western Wall–something we thought

had been secured for

all Jews in

June 1967′. The International Committee for the Women of the Kotel,


has recently initiated a

parallel, supporting suit. (The ICWK has regional branches

in New York, Philadelphia, California,

Sweden, and


This case promises to be a landmark in the

history of religious rights struggles in

Israel. It is the only case ever to be argued on behalf of the

religious rights of

Jewish women.

But the struggle is for all Jews, not only for women’s rights: it is

a struggle for human rights, Jewish

pluralism and the dignity of the State of


After receiving from the Court a seven-and-

one-half month delay in proceedings for

the stated purpose of promoting mutual understanding–during

which time the women

were barred

from wearing prayer shawls, reading from a Torah, or most recently


even raising their voices–the

State published (end of December 1989) its response to the

women’s suit: a new ruling by the Religion

Ministry prohibiting, on pain of imprisonment

and fines, any “unaccustomed religious ceremony

which offends the sensibilities of

worshipers regarding the (Holy Place.)” Framed explicitly to

bar the women from prayer,


arbitrary ruling institutionalizes what State religious authorities

have maintained

all along: that the

Western Wall is the preserve of the ultra-Orthodox, who may suffer or

prevent the worship of other Jews, not even according to the mandates



. but at will. It rewards the violence by

protecting the “sensibilities” of those

who have thrown metal chairs, pushed, kicked, and bitten Jewish

women at prayer,

shrieking into

their ears as they prayed, while turning the women into criminals.

This outrageous, discriminatory

enactment should shame the Minister of Religion, Zevulun Hammer,

and the Minister of Justice, Dan

Meridor, who authorized and signed it.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the CCAR encourage its members

and their constituencies

to support

the Women of the Wall by writing to the Ministers of Religion and


the Prime Minister, the

Chief rabbis, public figures, and President of Israel about

a. Bat mitzvah

ceremonies at the Wall–something

now forbidden;

b. Women having

the option of joining prayer groups at the Wall;

c. Women holding and reading a Sefer


d. The impropriety of Jews barring other Jews from

praying at this holy place in peace

and dignity;


RESOLVED that the CCAR, its members, their organizations and


contribute, through

ARZA, KADIMA, and IRAC, to help pay for legal costs and for publicity

to take the women’s cause to the

Israeli public and to the Jews of the world.