March 9, 2014
Several months ago Women of the Wall made a difficult decision to seize the opportunity to envision and design a new future for the Western Wall. In this vision, a third section would be created, equal and fully integrated with the Kotel.
Recently, a number of women have chosen to leave the fold of Women of the Wall and pursue their right to pray in the ultra-Orthodox ruled women’s section. We respect their voices and their desire to continue to pray in the women’s section under the management of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz. It remains our belief that all voices should be heard.
However, we reject the implication that Women of the Wall, the organization, the board and its supporters have acted in ways that are dishonest or dishonorable. Women of the Wall as an NGO is an open book, in perfect standing with the Israeli Registrar of NGOs, and has always acted with great integrity and adherence to the law. Our leaders and supporters make informed decisions about the strategies they chose to support. Though the “dissenters” openly disapprove of the board’s decision to negotiate with the government, they were actively involved, less than a year ago while Anat Hoffman was arrested, brutalized and kept over night in jail for this cause, in the process of achieving the Sobel decision they boast so proudly.
Debate, dissent and disagreement are integral parts of a dynamic and relevant feminist, Jewish movement like ours, however there is no legitimacy to claims that the Women of the Wall board have acted unlawfully. For 25 years we have defended the right of all women to pray at the wall, each according to her tradition, with the utmost integrity. We struggled to have our voices heard and now we have taken our place amongst the leaders re-envisioning the future of the holy site.
Regarding negotiations with Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit:
One of the central conditions Women of the Wall have put to the government as a red line together with its partners, is the complete decriminalization of women’s prayer in the women’s section. Only Women of the Wall can achieve this result and it can only be achieved through these negotiations.
If the negotiations succeed and a third section is created in agreement with Women of the Wall, the Reform Movement and the Masorti Movement, the result will be a space at the Kotel that reflects the true makeup of the majority of Israelis and Jewish people. This vision, if it becomes a reality, includes and goes far beyond that which the founding mothers of Women of the Wall set for themselves in the early days.
In the meantime, as the negotiations develop, Women of the Wall continues to pray each month in the women’ section of the Kotel. We will continue to do so until such a time that plans for the third prayer section are implemented in full and in accordance with conditions agreed upon with the government. While we continue to pray in the women’s section we remain dedicated to the struggle for women’s right to read Torah at the Kotel from a Torah scroll.