Kotel Egalitarian Prayer Plan Set in Motion by Dramatic Western Wall Compromise

Sharansky Promises 'One Western Wall for One Jewish People'

Kotel Drama: Natan Sharansky came up with the proposal to split the Western Wall into Orthodox and egalitarian prayer sections. He needed some help to get it across the finish line.
getty images
Kotel Drama: Natan Sharansky came up with the proposal to split the Western Wall into Orthodox and egalitarian prayer sections. He needed some help to get it across the finish line.

By Nathan Guttman and Jane Eisner

Published April 10, 2013, issue of April 19, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 4)

Past attempts to renovate the bridge led to tension with the Muslim Waqf, which controls Islam’s holy sites in Jerusalem. It is also not yet clear whether current Israeli law allows for a religious area, such as the proposed egalitarian section, to be governed by non-Orthodox denominations.

Yet the biggest challenge could be that which is facing the Reform movement. The group, which had sided in the past with Women of the Wall, decided to go forward with Sharansky’s ideas, tilting the balance in favor of adopting the plan.

“We want a resolution that is for the good of all,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. This compromise reflects, to a great extent, an understanding that the battle over women’s prayer at the Wall is only one aspect of the Reform struggle to establish itself in Israel, and not the one Israelis necessarily view as most important. “There are issues that are deeply experienced here but not so in Israel,” Jacobs said, noting that the call for civil marriage is strongly supported by Israelis but “the Kotel not necessarily.”

Putting the Western Wall issue to rest will allow the Reform movement to focus on its other agenda items in Israel, which include equal funding for non-Orthodox rabbis and religious institutions, marriage equality and ending institutionalized preference for Orthodox Judaism. “We hope that we can go from here to the other issues,” Jacobs said.

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com.

Contact Jane Eisner at eisner@forward.com.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.