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April 11, 2013 3:02 am

Western Wall Egalitarian Prayer Section Proposed by Jewish Agency’s Sharansky

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The Western Wall. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

At the Western Wall, a new plan has emerged for the creation of an egalitarian prayer section in a bid to end a longtime dispute over prayer access among Jewish sects.

The Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, has been the center of a decades-old dispute between the Orthodox, who control the site, and Jews seeking egalitarian practices there, mainly Conservative and Reform Jews from the United States. In recent months, the dispute reached new heights when members of a Jewish group called “Women of the Wall” were arrested for praying with religious garments only traditionally worn by men under Orthodox practices.

Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive for the Jewish Agency for Israel, was tasked by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to find a solution to the issue.

Under Sharansky’s proposal, a new area will be created at Robinson’s Arch, which is currently an archeological site south of the Western Wall Plaza. This new area would allow egalitarian prayer as well as be expanded and connected to the existing Orthodox-supervised men and women’s prayer sites. The new site would be open 24 hours a day for prayers, events and mass ceremonies.

“I presented it to the government ministers, to the leaders of the Jewish movements in the U.S., to the Western Wall rabbi, and each of them have their own reservations but they all understand that the situation in which the Western Wall is a place of conflict and dispute must end and that it must be rebuilt as a uniting place,” Sharanky told Yedioth Ahronoth.

The proposal will be submitted to Netanyahu for his consideration.

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  • jerry hersch

    In a nation founded by pioneers where both men and women shared equallly the burdens..
    In a nation where both men and women share the burden of defense.
    And in the aftermath of the Holocaust where women had to assume the responsibilities that were the responsibilities and the perogatives of men…
    An entrenched rabbinate decided that the OPINIONS of Talmud were immutable and that no further interpretations could exist other than those which gave them power.The rabbinate therefore declared Judaism dead- incapable of further interpretation.
    The rabbinate ignored the God ordained manifistations of events that were presented to them to show that it was now time for equality