Israel’s cabinet secretary is expected to present a plan on Sunday that aims to resolve the ongoing dispute over the rights of non-Orthodox Jews, including women, to pray at the Western Wall according to their customs.
The new plan, to be presented by Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit, departs from Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky’s proposal to set up a new space for egalitarian prayer services at the Western Wall, which won broad support from Jewish communities in Israel and the United States. It also effectively snubs a ruling from Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Sobel, which permitted the Women of the Wall to pray according to their custom in the existing women’s prayer section.
Mendelblit, who headed a committee tasked with ironing out details of the plan, including setting a timetable for implementation, is expected to propose a 400-square-meter space for egalitarian worship, with no rabbinical supervision, at Robinson’s Arch. There, women would be permitted to read from the Torah and wear prayer shawls.
Haaretz has learned that Mendelblit’s plan follows in the footsteps of his predecessor, Zvi Hauser, also a member of the current committee. Some years ago, Hauser suggested that the government set up space for egalitarian worship in the area known as the “Southern Wall” — an extension of the main prayer plaza that is separate from it and that is located in the same archaeological park housing Robinson’s Arch, a Herodian-era street and other archaeological artifacts. Today, the area of worship contains a small wooden platform built for the Women of the Wall roughly a decade ago, which the group said did not meet their demand to be allowed to worship freely at the Western Wall.
Read more at Haaretz.com.