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      Archive: 5/7/2013
      13:45
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      News Brief

        5/7/2013, Iyar 27, 5773

      Tension as Women of the Wall Meet at Knesset


      Sometimes diverse sectors attempt to hold dialogue groups to discuss their differences. However the discussion at the Knesset on Tuesday didn't end in pleasantries.

      Members of Women of The Wall participated in a Knesset committee meeting to discuss the outline formulated by Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky. A proposal from the early 2000s resulted in the Robinson's Arch area next to the Western Wall to be designated as a special place for non-traditional prayer services. Sharansky recently pushed the idea once again as a compromise to the Women of the Wall.

      However the Women of the Wall have been demanding their unique form of women's services with tallit, teffilin and Torah readings to be conducted at the main part of the women's section, something that goes against established custom and norms at the holy site and was ruled against the law by the Supreme Court until recently. A new proposal discussed on Tuesday was that rather than the Robinson's Arch compromise and rather then just a men's and women's section, the main Kotel plaza would be divided into 3 sections with the third for non-normative prayer services.

      Members of the United Torah Judaism Party argued that the Women of the Wall are a small minority group seeking to disrupt the traditionally accepted practices in contrast to the thousands of women who visit the holy site on a regular basis. The counter-organization Women For the Wall has pointed out that the entire group has never numbered more than 100 women iand they come only once a month, so that they can hardly demand change.

      The founder of Women of the Wall is Anat Hoffman, a Reform Jew and former co-founder of the Women in Black group. She also served on the Jerusalem City council with the Meretz Party for about 10 years.