MEMBERS OF 'Women of the Wall' including the author (second from right) speak to the media following the Israeli government's decision last year.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Dear Mr. Prime Minister, Tuesday, January 31, 2017, marks the first anniversary of the government’s decision regarding an equitable arrangement for prayer at the Western Wall. The government’s decision was never implemented.
During the course of this year, despite unceasing harassment by the Western Wall rabbi, Women of the Wall continued praying at the Western Wall. We suffered intentional harm caused by disruptive worshipers who the authorities chose to ignore.
We are a group of women representing all streams of Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. For 28 years, we have prayed at the Western Wall in accordance with our traditions while striving for women’s equality. Since 1989, the Supreme Court and other courts have recognized our right to pray. Despite the legal protection, the state’s authorities refuse to secure our religious freedom.
When you, Mr. Prime Minister, established a team to advise you regarding arrangements at the Wall, we joined the effort wholeheartedly. We participated in good faith in negotiations lasting three years. Among our members were some women who did not believe in this process; they doubted your motivations and suspected the initiative would achieve nothing more than a waste of time and the quelling of world Jewry’s frustration.
Still, despite a painful schism within our group, we chose to pursue the difficult course of crafting a compromise. Significant sacrifices are a natural consequence of real leadership. We accepted the sacrifices demanded of us as part of our responsibility in challenging existing norms.
The implementation of this agreement could have been the signal achievement of your premiership.
You would have repaired an historic injustice against women and girls and deservedly earned the gratitude of Israelis and Jews worldwide. But, for reasons that you have never shared with us, you chose not to use the power in your hands and implement your own initiative. It is impossible to overstate the damage done to our faith in you. The same can be said about the confidence of millions of Jews in the judgment and integrity of the government you lead.
I have no doubt that the day will come when a young girl will rise to the Torah at the Western Wall.
She will lead our congregation in prayer and will celebrate her bat mitzva for all to see. She will arrive at her maturity despite your short-sighted surrender to an extremist minority.The author is the Chair of Women of the Wall.