Modern changes suddenly are afoot at Jerusalem’s ancient Western Wall. Two developments this week signal greater access for Jews who seek to pray in their own way at the 2,000-year-old surviving outer retaining wall of the Second Temple, Judaism’s holiest site.
In a landmark decision, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled Monday that women can hold group prayer services at the Wall, wear prayer shawls, read aloud from the Torah — and must be provided police protection.
Reform and Conservative leaders are threatening to hit Israeli politicians where it hurts — in the pocketbook — for supporting a new two-pronged legislative attack aimed at blocking non-Orthodox efforts to gain equality in Israel.
In this sudden escalation of Israel’s religious pluralism war, non-Orthodox leaders this week angrily denounced the Israeli Orthodox coalition’s aggressive political maneuvers to try and prevent Reform and Conservative representatives from taking their seats on local religious councils.
Reform and Conservative leaders are pointing to the findings of a poll — ironcially, commissioned by an Orthodox group — as proof that Israelis are increasingly receptive to the liberal streams of Judaism. The non-Orthodox leaders contend that the responses to six of 16 questions from a recent survey commissioned by the Orthodox Union, a large, mainstream American group, prove that the Conservative and Reform movements have gained significant recognition and support among Israelis in the religious pluralism battle.