'Women Of The Wall Must Prove They're Sincere'
Women for the Wall, a grassroots organization committed to preserving traditional Jewish norms at the Western Wall (Kotel) Plaza and maintaining the sanctity of the Holy Site, has called on the Women of the Wall group, which seeks to challenge Halachic (Jewish legal) norms and traditional Jewish practices at the Western Wall, to "show leadership through action by moving its prayers to the new Ezrat Yisrael section at the Western Wall immediately."
Earlier on Monday, the Women of the Wall organization announced that they will move to the new section - constructed in order to facilitate non-Orthodox prayers without disrupting the Orthodox majority at the original section - only after "all of their conditions and specifications are met" and not before the construction is completed.
Media outlets have reported that their conditions include appointing Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman as chair of the governing body of the new section, and demanding the same amount of funding as the traditional plaza, which is used by millions of Jews each year.
"If Women of the Wall want to become the agents of change, they should do so through action, not pronouncements, by moving to the new plaza immediately," said Leah Aharoni, co-founder of Women For the Wall. "The divisiveness at the Kotel hurts all of us, the entire Jewish People, and the faster it comes to an end the better."
Aharoni went on to say that Women For the Wall find it "beyond comprehension that a small organization that can barely muster up 100 women once a month for a prayer service should presume to dictate terms and conditions" at the Kotel, which is used by "millions of Jews around the world."
Women For the Wall also recalled an incident which took place at the Western Wall on Friday, in which Women of the Wall's chazzanit [female cantor] "disturbed the services" of 15,000 men and women who came to pray for the health of the recently departed Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, of blessed memory.
According to their statement, their chazzanit used a microphone to lead the splinter group in loud singing.
"Women of the Wall have been making statements in support of the Sharansky proposal for the past year, all the while putting up untenable preconditions and continuing a pattern of deliberate provocation and disturbance," said Ronit Peskin, co-founder of Women for the Wall. The Sharansky proposal refers to the compromise proposed by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky which precipitated the building of the new, non-Orthodox section.
The proposal, presented last year, recommended that a prayer area specifically for women be set up on the southern side of the Temple Mount.
"We would be delighted for this unfortunate situation to come to an end, but WOW must prove their sincere intent behind their diplomatic language."