The Union for Reform Judaism has kicked off a letter writing campaign to the Israeli government to pressure it to implement its plan for an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall Jewish holy site.
Timed with the Jewish New Year, the organization is urging supporters to email a pre-written letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin expressing “a deep sense frustration and apprehension” at the government’s failure to create an egalitarian prayer space for non-Orthodox Jews at the Western Wall.
The letter, written in a sorrowful, rather than aggressive tone, warns that ties between diaspora Jews and the Israeli state are at stake if the deal is not implemented.
“Jews from New York to London to Johannesburg to Hong Kong are watching with great interest to learn if they are truly part of ‘Am Yisrael’ or if they will continue to be treated as second class Jews in the eyes of the Jewish State.”
Rick Jacobs, the head of the Union for Reform Judaism, asked supporters to make 5777, the new Jewish year, the “year of victory at the Kotel,” or the Western Wall.
The letter writing campaign comes on the heels of the Israeli High Court’s rebuke of the government for not creating an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, according with its own decision on January 31.
That decision was the result of three years of negotiations between the government and pluralist Jewish groups, such as Women of the Wall, the feminist prayer group that advocates for equal prayer rights between women and men at the holy site.
The government put the egalitarian plaza on hold amid protest from ultra-Orthodox parties.
Naomi Zeveloff is the Middle East correspondent of the Forward, primarily covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories.