Non-Orthodox worshipers hold prayer rally as Western Wall feud persists

Progressive Jewish groups continue to hold prayer services in the upper plaza of the Western Wall until the government-approved plan for an egalitarian prayer space at the site is implemented.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
July 7, 2016 10:06
2 minute read.
women of the wall

Women of the Wall demonstration at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, July 7, 2016. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

On Monday, at the initiative of the Hartman Institute, a pluralist education organization, a mixed gender prayer rally was held at the Western Wall, led by President of the Reform Movement in North America Rabbi Rick Jacobs, together with Rabbi Donniel Hartman, head of the institute.

Members of the Women of the Wall group that seeks the secure women's right to pray at the holy site managed to bring a Torah scroll into the complex where women are forbidden to do as such. 

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The Attorney-General's office said Wednesday that mixed gender prayer services were not permitted at the site's upper plaza.

Army Radio on Thursday cited Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Reform movement in Israel, as saying non-Orthodox activists were planning to intensify their actions in the contested campaign for egalitarian prayer rights.

Kariv noted that the non-Orthodox movement is set to appeal to the Supreme Court on Sunday regarding an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall.

"Unfortunately, we have been forced to turn to the Supreme Court on Sunday and we do not intend to give up our right to bring hundred of Reform and Conservative Jews to gather for song, Torah study and personal prayer," the radio station quoted him as saying.

In January, the government issued a decision to expand and formally recognize the egalitarian prayer space at the southern end of the Western Wall, known as Robinson’s Arch, but intense haredi opposition has stalled implementation of the plan.

In a step designed to heap more pressure on the government, progressive Jewish groups have announced that they will hold prayer services in the upper plaza of the Western Wall until the government-approved plan for an egalitarian prayer space at the site is implemented.

On June 16, the Reform and Masorti movements held a mixed-gender service at the Western Wall to underline their dissatisfaction with the government’s failure to move forward on this issue, leading to fierce protests.

But the progressive Jewish movements now say they will hold regular such services in the upper plaza until the agreement to create a large, state-recognized egalitarian prayer space at the southern end of the Western Wall is carried out.

On Monday, at the initiative of the Hartman Institute, a pluralist education organization, an afternoon pluralist prayer service will be held at the Western Wall and will be led by President of the Reform Movement in North America Rabbi Rick Jacobs, together with Rabbi Donniel Hartman, head of the institute, and others pluralist leaders.

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.



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