Israeli Group of Orthodox Feminists Opposed to Kotel Egalitarian Prayer Area

Kolech-Religious Women’s Forum Will Not Pray With Men

Getty Images

By JTA

Published February 04, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

An Israeli group of Orthodox feminists voiced its opposition to moving non-traditional women’s prayer to a new egalitarian area.

The Kolech-Religious Women’s Forum sent a letter this week to a special government committee headed by Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit saying that its members would not be willing to pray in a female minyan in the egalitarian section because as Orthodox women they will not pray with men.

The letter follows reports that the Women of the Wall organization, after months of negotiations, is close to approving an agreement with the Israeli government via the committee that would move the group’s monthly prayer service to the new egalitarian area.

The agreement includes issues relating to the area’s size, appearance, management, accessibility, budget and name. Taken together, the conditions mandate that the new section be treated as equal to the existing Western Wall plaza.

“The compromise being formulated in your discussions with Women of the Wall, according to which women’s prayer groups would be forced to leave the women’s section and move to Ezrat Yisrael (the egalitarian section), could deal a heavy blow to Orthodox women, and we will not be able to agree to this,” the letter said. “We see ourselves as part of Orthodoxy, and our prayers have already become part of the local custom as interpreted in Judge Sobel’s ruling.”

A Jerusalem District Court last year said women praying in a quorum with tallit and tefillin is not a violation of the local custom and therefore is permitted in the women’s section of the Western Wall. Women have not been arrested at the monthly prayer services since the ruling.

“Attempts to move us over to Ezrat Yisrael represent a blow to our religious identity,” the Kolech letter said. “Since we observe halacha strictly and belong to the Orthodox Jewish stream, we are not willing to forfeit our right to pray as we see fit in the women’s section of the Western Wall.”

The Kolech group, which has been a strong supporter of Women of the Wall, has asked for a meeting with Mendelblit and his committee in order to explain their stance.


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!
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • 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.