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A Victory for Pluralism at the Kotel!

A Victory for Pluralism at the Kotel!

The Western Wall Plaza

After decades of prayer, protest and negotiation, the Israeli government announced a historic compromise on egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall on Sunday. Leaders of our Movement in both North America and Israel have hailed the agreement as an important show of progress in the struggle for religious pluralism in Israel.

Women of the Wall chair Anat Hoffman recognized the long road that her organization has traveled to reach this point: “After years and years of insisting that we have an equal place for prayer, after enduring campaigns of abuse against us, and being encouraged by a wave of Jewish support from across the globe, we have accomplished this extraordinary first step.”

URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs also recognized the work of “those in Israel who wouldn’t agree to the second-class status imposed by the ultra-Orthodox religious establishment, and by all of us outside of Israel whose unconditional love for our Jewish State compels us to tirelessly advocate for a more equal, pluralistic, and Jewishly vibrant Israel.” Their praise for the agreement echoes statements made by Conservative Movement and diaspora Jewish organizations that were heavily involved in pushing for greater freedom for non-Orthodox worshippers at the Kotel.

What does this plan mean for the future of the Kotel? Three major provisions detail the most pivotal changes:

Women of the Wall have published a more detailed summary of the new plan for the Kotel and Rabbi Gilad Kariv of the Israeli Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism has also recorded a video outlining the plan and what it means for the future of religious pluralism in Israel. If you would like to learn more about how members of the Reform community in North America are reacting to the compromise, check out these insightful and moving reflections from CCAR President Rabbi Denise L. Eger and Rabbi Laura Geller.

As we celebrate this moment, it is also important that we look towards the future and continue to push for implementation of this agreement. With that in mind, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Rabbi Gilad Kariv and Anat Hoffman are hosted a webinar last week to discuss the plan and important steps to take as we move forward. Notes and a recording of the webinar are available in The Tent. You can also learn more about our work for religious pluralism in Israel by visiting the RAC issue page.

Feature Image courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism, Flickr.

Jacob Kraus is the campaign organizer at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, leading the Reform Movement’s Urgency of Now campaigns for criminal justice reform and immigrant justice. Based at the Union for Reform Judaism offices in New York City, Jacob grew up in Cincinnati, OH, where his family is affiliated with Rockdale Temple. He is a 2015 graduate of Macalester College.

Jacob Kraus

Published: 2/03/2016