Yesterday, the Government of Israel officially approved the expansion of the egalitarian section of the Western Wall known as the “Ezrat Yisrael”.
As our partners in the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) declared:
- FOR THE FIRST TIME – Complete and clear Israeli legal recognition of egalitarian prayer in the spirit of Reform and Conservative Judaism as part of the custom of Jewish holy sites.
- FOR THE FIRST TIME – A joint government office with legally binding authority, government funding and official representation from the Reform and Conservative Movements.
- FOR THE FIRST TIME – Any visitor to the Kotel and any family from Israel or from abroad celebrating a Bar or Bat Mitzvah will be able to choose between a separated prayer service with a Mechitza (barrier) between women and men and an egalitarian and mixed prayer service.
- FOR THE FIRST TIME – Legally binding recognition of the official status of the upper plaza and its usage for ceremonies and national and public events with no separation between men and women and without the coercion of religious norms which are unaccepted by the majority of Israelis (such as the prevention of women from singing).
- FOR THE FIRST TIME – The Reform and Conservative Movements, Women of the Wall, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) have teamed up for a joint and coordinated agreement with the Israeli government regarding matters of religion and state in Israel.
Now, we need your support more than ever, to consolidate these gains and work towards building Progressive Jewish life in Israel.
This is an important step at the Kotel, but this doesn’t mean that resistance to our practice of Judaism is over. Women will still face hostility praying in the manner that they choose, and we need to continue to fight for equity and pluralism before the law. While we may have space at Judaism’s holiest site, we still face discrimination in our everyday spaces of living and worship (for more detailed thoughts, read more here).
Help us continue to move from strength to strength building a pluralistic, democratic and Jewish Israel for all. This is an important victory, and we will win together again.
Rabbi Bennett Miller
Chair of the Board, ARZA