Daily Israel Report

Bennett: Come Visit non-Orthodox Kotel Section

Bayit Yehudi head in appeal to Reform, Conservative Jews: new section is open to all streams, 24 hours a day.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/26/2013, 10:10 AM

Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett, who is also the Minister of Religions, and Minister of Jerualem and the Diaspora, among his other portfolios, issued a call to members of Reform, Conservative, and other non-Orthodox streams, to visit the new prayer section that the Ministry of Religions has set up next to the Kotel Plaza.

"Today we opened a new section in the Kotel – 'Ezrat Yisrael', he wrote in his Facebook page. “Two weeks ago, I instructed my people to build a new section at the Kotel, a few dozen yards south of the existing plaza, next to the Rambam Gate. Today, we, the staff of the Ministry of Jerusalem and the Diaspora, completed it. It's open!”

Bennett continues: "What is the idea? It is a section that is open to all streams, all communities, 24 hours a day, all year, at no cost. The entire family can go there with no limitations.”

"The existing Kotel Plaza (with men's and women's sections) will continue to operate as it does today.”

"In the last few years,” Bennett explains, “many tensions have cropped up around the Kotel. The general public – and I am not talking about the Women of the Wall, actually, but about the Nation of Israel in general – felt that it has a hard time reaching the Kotel. That is cannot connect. In the world, there are many streams, and actually, most of the Jewish world in the Diaspora is not Orthodox. As the minister for Diaspora Affairs, I believe that the Kotel belongs to all the Jews in the world. Not to one stream or another. That is what the new Ezrat Yisrael section is about.”

"I know,” he added, “that we have been criticized by Women of the Wall ('not good enough'...) and received opposite criticism from extremists on the other side ('you've gone too far'), but in my eyes, Ezrat Yisrael is a wonderful thing. It makes unity and peace possible at the Kotel. This is the first time in years that all of the Nation of Israel can come to the Kotel. For Rosh Hashanna – come visit the Kotel!”