Reform, Conservative Jews slam gov’t after meeting

“At this point, warm words cannot stand alone without action," said the director-general of the Masorti Movement.

 Women of the Wall praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, August 9, 2021.  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Women of the Wall praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, August 9, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Heads of the Reform and Conservative movements, together with Women of the Wall, met on Monday with Cabinet Secretary Shalom Shlomo at the Prime Minister’s Office.

On the agenda: an update meeting that was set to take place every few months on the issue of the Western Wall compromise – almost exactly five years after it was canceled.

The movements all sent out press releases criticizing the government since the meeting had no bottom line, according to those who participated in it.

“We came out of the meeting with mixed feelings,” said Director-General of the Masorti Movement Rakefet Ginsberg. “At this point, warm words cannot stand alone without action.”

She said that “opponents of the outline’s ridiculous attempt to present the Western Wall as only a place for Conservative or Reform Israelis - won’t succeed.”

 An American family celebrates a bar mitzvah at Robinson's Arch, where egalitarian prayers take place at the Western Wall. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) An American family celebrates a bar mitzvah at Robinson's Arch, where egalitarian prayers take place at the Western Wall. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

She added that “a respectable part of the people of Israel choose to pray [with] the entire family together, as hundreds of worshipers visit there daily and tens of bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies that took place this morning at [the egalitarian prayer section at] the Kotel.” She continued by saying that “The ‘Government of Change,’” as its heads have called it, “intended to represent the mainstream of Israeli society, which believes in living and letting live. In practice, the government is once again succumbing to extreme voices out of imaginary fear, instead of proudly bearing the values on which this government is supposed to be based. “

The Reform Movement and the Women of the Wall (WoW) said in a press release that “for the past four years, there has been no access to the Western Wall stones for worshipers (in the egalitarian section). At the same time, ultra-Orthodox groups have been praying there with separation between men and women and bullying people who want to pray without separation.  During all this time, the severe violence against WoW during Rosh Chodesh prayers continues.” The two organizations stated that “we call on the Government of Israel to implement the outline of the Western Wall, as part of which an egalitarian, broad and respectful prayer space will be established - without further delay.”

Vice Chairman of the World Zionist Organization Dr. Yizhar Hess and former Director-General of the Masorti Movement: “The meeting with the Secretary of State was pleasant but very frustrating. “Not only did we step forward, but we retreated. A big disappointment.”

Heads of the liberal streams have been very careful as to criticizing the current Israeli government since it was clear to them that this government would actually pass the Kotel Compromise. Sources in the movements have said on Monday that “we have to re-access our attitude towards this government with regards to the Kotel,” and that “we’ve been quiet and polite till now, but we won’t be silent anymore.”