Darkenu launches campaign asking Diaspora Jews to support Western Wall deal

The non-partisan civil society movement Darkenu launched a campaign calling for Diaspora Jews to express their support for the Western Wall compromise which is being pushed by the gov't.

 WOMEN OF THE WALL hold a prayer service at the Western Wall in Jerusalem as hundreds of ultra-Orthodox women protest (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
WOMEN OF THE WALL hold a prayer service at the Western Wall in Jerusalem as hundreds of ultra-Orthodox women protest
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

Darkenu, Israel’s largest non-partisan civil society NGO, launched a campaign on Monday to get Diaspora Jews to complain to the Israeli government that the Western Wall agreement from four years ago has still not been implemented, the organization announced.

The campaign is part of a wider push by Darkenu and other organizations urging the government to accept and adopt the Western Wall compromise, which allocates a southern portion of the wall for non-Orthodox prayer. 

“The Western Wall belongs to all forms of Jews and not only to the haredim (ultra-Orthodox),” said Darkenu CEO Yaya Fink. “We have initiated a campaign to unite all Jews by urging the government to implement the Western Wall compromise.”

A video was circulated in English to boost the campaign.

“Whether you choose to pray in the neighborhood synagogue, a bench in Central Park or sitting in traffic on the 101 Freeway, each one of us deserves the right to express and practice religion in our own way,” a presenter in the video says.

“The Western Wall compromise seeks to achieve a formal role for Conservative and Reform Judaism in overseeing a permanent pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall. Judaism and the Western Wall belong to all denominations. Israel is the home of all Jews, not only the ultra-Orthodox parties,” the presenter continues.

The presenter then adds that 10,000 Israelis have joined Darkenu’s efforts, and more than 250,000 people have sent emails of support. She concludes by calling on viewers to join the effort.

The campaign comes days after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he planned to intervene in resolving the dispute by sending his cabinet secretary, Shalom Shlomo, to meet with representatives of the Reform and Conservative movements on Thursday.

The meeting was promised to Labor MK Gilad Kariv in return for his agreement to temporarily avoid attending the services of the Women of the Wall and avoid tension at the holy site.

On Sunday, the Women of the Wall convened at the Western Wall for the monthly Rosh Hodesh prayers. Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar Ben-Gvir arrived at the area where the women were praying and shouted, “Do not desecrate the Western Wall – it belongs to everyone except for you. You don’t represent anyone, leave.”

The Western Wall agreement was passed by cabinet resolution in 2016 but was indefinitely suspended by the same government in 2017. It would have seen the current prayer platform for non-Orthodox prayers at the Robinson Arch area at the southern end of the Western Wall designated in law as a prayer space for non-Orthodox worship and would have given representatives of the Reform and Conservative movements a place on the site’s governing committee. At the same time, the central Western Wall plaza would be designated in law as a place for Orthodox prayer only.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.