Monday, June 26, 2017

Israel's Cabinet Suspends Agreement On Egalitarian Prayer Space At Western Wall

As reported by Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post, Israel's Cabinet on Sunday voted to suspend the agreement with Judaism's Reform and Conservative movements and the Women of the Wall movement approved by the Cabinet last year to construct a separate prayer space at the Western Wall for egalitarian prayer. Implementation of the agreement had already been long delayed.  (See prior related posting.)  Now negotiations will begin on a new plan acceptable to the ultra-Orthodox political parties.  Yesterday's move came after pressure from the ultra-Orthodox members Prime Minister Netanyahu's coalition. At the same time, the Cabinet approved continued construction to improve the Robinson's Arch area in the southern part of the Western Wall complex away from the main plaza.This area is currently used for mixed-gender prayer.  With yesterday's decision, attention now moves to the High Court of Justice where a lawsuit filed previously seeks to require the government to provide egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall.  Some Cabinet members blamed the filing of that lawsuit for yesterday's Cabinet action, saying it undercut the possibility of informal resolution.

Union for Reform Judaism president Rabbi Rick Jacobs reacted strongly to the Cabinet's decision, calling it "an unconscionable insult to the majority of world Jewry."