A Rabbinic Group Supports ‘Third Kotel’ Plan
The Beit Hillel rabbinic organization, an organization launched in 2012 that has women in leadership roles, has issued an official statement of support for a suggestion that would see a third prayer area created at the Kotel (Western Wall), even though the prayers would contradict halakha..
The Wall is currently split into two sections, one for men’s prayer and one for women’s prayer. At both sections there are restrictions in place to ensure respect for Jewish religious tradition – including a ban on women’s group prayer in prayer shawls, tefillin that reads from the Torah, that has become a controversial issue following recent provocations by the Women of the Wall.
Jewish Agency head, Anatoly Sharansky, proposed creating a third area where men and women would be allowed to pray together, as in the Conservative and Reform movements, and those prayer services could be held openly.
“We support a solution which will on the one hand allow all sects of the Jewish nation to go to the Western Wall and pray there, and on the other hand, will respect the holiness of the existing Kotel prayer space,” the statement read. “Creating a third prayer space is a good solution.”
“Beit Hillel hopes that the suggested solution will mean the Kotel will continue to be a symbol of holiness for the nation and will draw the entire nation, and at the same time, will prevent disgraceful conflicts at the holy Wall.”
“United Jerusalem has always been a source of unity for the nation of Israel,” the group continued. “Rifts in society and baseless hate are what led to its destruction. The Western Wall must not become a source of conflict, fighting and hate.”
The group also spoke out against the ban on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. The government has proposed a solution for the Kotel, the group said, “We call on the government to find a similar solution that will allow for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, and will end the discrimination against Jews, who are not allowed to pray either publicly or privately at the most holy site to the Jewish people.”
“Discrimination on the basis of religion, with Muslims allows to pray at this holy place while Jews are forbidden to pray, is completely unacceptable in a democracy,” the group added.