As I pushed through the jampacked Kotel on Rosh Hodesh Sivan, thousands of religious girls pointed at my kippa and screamed in my face. Not only did they stick out their tongues, but they made the shape of a gun with their hands and rotated between pointing it at their heads and pointing it at mine. Scanning through the faces of the young girls, I wondered if in a different setting, we could’ve been braiding challah or lighting Shabbat candles together as friends. Some of their eyes leaked with hatrid and disgust, while some overflowed with intrigue, curiosity, and at times boredom. A large portion of the girls seemed to be mulling about, happy to be spending time with friends, and waiting for us to leave.
Support faltered, then rebounded, this week for Natan Sharansky’s bold plan to transform the Western Wall into a site for both traditional and alternative prayer, as the Jewish Agency chair held intense discussions with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s office, seeking to establish a timeline for the project and move it forward.
Natan Sharansky’s proposal to reduce tensions at the Western Wall has lost support from both Orthodox and non-Orthodox leaders.
When Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, made the plan public a few weeks ago, it received at least tacit approval from a range of activists, including the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz.
The plan would expand the egalitarian section of the Western Wall Plaza – called Robinson’s Arch – and create a unified entrance to the Wall’s traditional and egalitarian sections. It was meant as a compromise between haredi Orthodox leaders who wanted to maintain exclusive control of the Western Wall, and religious pluralism activists who wanted the site opened to egalitarian prayer.
Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall, said rabbis must weigh whether to oppose a compromise proposal over egalitarian prayer at Judaism's holiest site.
In a statement Thursday, Rabinowitz vowed to fight against "the slightest deviation" from customary practice at the Western Wall. However, he left unclear whether the compromise forged by Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky, which would create a permanent site for egalitarian prayer at a section of the Western Wall called Robinson's Arch, constituted such a deviation.
JERUSALEM -- Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky was given a green light by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pursue his plan for a permanent egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall.
Arrested after morning prayers, Women of the Wall are released by a judge without charges or conditions.
Five women were detained by Jerusalem police for wearing prayer shawls at a Women of the Wall service at the Western Wall, but a judge later said there was no cause for arresting them, and released them, according to a statement from Women of the Wall, a group that agitates for women's prayer rights at the holy site.
Historic proposal would be a major victory for pluralism.
Editor and Publisher
Charged by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to come up with a Solomonic solution to the growing controversy over women’s prayer at Judaism’s holiest site, Natan Sharansky, the chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, has prepared a bold and grand plan to allow any and all Jews to pray at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
Confronted by Sharansky, rabbi says arrests won't happen -- but police say rabbi has no authority.
Women who want to say the Mourner’s Kaddish at the Western Wall were threatened with arrest in a recent letter from the Israeli police to a women’s rights group, but both Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who runs the government body that oversees holy sites like the wall, say it will not happen.