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IRF Expresses Support for Kotel Compromise

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The International Rabbinic Fellowship is saddened by the continued friction within the Jewish community around the question of non-Orthodox Jews conducting prayer services in accordance with their religious practice in the Western Wall area. This has ramifications beyond local Israeli concerns and impacts on the unity and cohesion of the Jewish people as a whole and its connection to the State of Israel.

We are in agreement with the recent statement of the Beit Hillel rabbinic organization in Israel that calls upon the government to implement the "Kotel Plan" compromise developed last year by Jewish Agency Chairman, Natan Sharansky, and approved by the Israeli cabinet in January 2016.

The plan, which like any compromise, can be improved upon (e.g. creating a space for Orthodox women's groups that do not want to engage in full egalitarian prayer but do want to read from the Torah) is a positive step forward to making the Kotel a public place where all Jews can experience the presence of the Divine according to the dictates of their conscience. As R.Benny Lau stated this week:

"The Western Wall is not a sectarian property. We must give everyone a sense that it is their home. It is the heart of the Jewish people."