Liberal religious-Zionist group calls on Bennett to speak out against Western Wall deal repeal

Beit Hillel, a liberal religious-Zionist rabbinical association, also called for implementation of the Western Wall resolution so that progressive Jews could pray in accordance with their own customs

January 31, 2017 17:00
2 minute read.
Jerusalem's Old City

An Orthodox Jewish worshipper prays at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A liberal religious-Zionist organization has expressed alarm at the cooperation between elements within Bayit Yehudi with the haredi parties in their goal to repeal the Western Wall government resolution approved last year.

Earlier this week, the chief rabbis, together with Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and the heads of United Torah Judaism and Shas, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to repeal the resolution to create a government-recognized pluralist prayer section at the southern end of the Western Wall, in light of pressure from the High Court of Justice.

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On Monday, the national-religious lobbying group Ne’emanei Torah Va’avodah sent a letter to Bayit Yehudi chairman and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, calling on him to make “a clear statement” supporting implementation of the deal and against its repeal.

“A party representing the religious-Zionist community should be expected to be a bridge to the Diaspora, even if the path of the Reform and Conservative movements is not our path,” the letter said.

“It is unthinkable [that] a community which observes Jewish law like us will sit quietly while millions of Jews are shown that the State of Israel does not give them expression at a place which is supposed to unite the entire Jewish people.

“The State of Israel is the state of the Jewish people in all its parts, and therefore we believe that a clear statement from you is needed in favor of implementing the Western Wall agreement, and against its repeal,” the letter concluded, adding that such a step would be appropriate for the diaspora affairs minister.

Beit Hillel, a liberal religious-Zionist rabbinical association, also called for implementation of the Western Wall resolution so that progressive Jews could pray in accordance with their own customs at the site.

“In order to prevent disputes, the chief rabbis and the rabbi of the Western Wall must embrace the proposed plan and allocate a separate prayer space for the different denominations,” Beit Hillel said to the press.

Although the resolution was passed exactly a year ago, implementation has been frozen due to haredi opposition to the agreement, caused in part by heavy pressure exerted on the haredi parties by the chief rabbis and the online haredi media.

Bennett’s office declined a request for comment by The Jerusalem Post.

When the demand by the haredi leaders and Ariel was first issued earlier this week to repeal the government resolution, a spokesman for Bennett declined to say how the minister would vote if a repeal resolution were to be brought before the cabinet.

He said, however, that Bennett still supports the Western Wall resolution, but that the “ball is in the prime minister’s court,” a reference to the fact that it is Netanyahu and the Prime Minister’s Office which are currently empowered to advance implementation of the plan.

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