Hundreds of Jews prayed and studied Torah on Thursday at the southern area of the Western Wall allotted for egalitarian prayer on Thursday, drawing angry responses from the Reform and Conservative movements.
Worshippers prayed in the traditional Jewish fashion, with a separation between men and women. Following the prayers, Torah classes were given throughout the day. Thursday was the second straight day that such events occurred, as a large prayer rally was held on Wednesday as well.
The prayers were angrily attacked by the Reform and Conservative movements, who contend that Robinson's Arch should be legally defined as an area reserved strictly for non-Orthodox services.
Writing on thee Facebook page of "Ezrat Yisrael - the egalitarian expansion of the Western Wall," they vehemently attacked the group of religious activists: "Call your bullying as much prayer as you like, but it will not change what really happens," they said.
"Your act is ugly, immoral and not Jewish...The Western Wall outline explicitly defined the custom of the place with the help of Israel as an egalitarian pluralist, without a barrier [between men and women]. However, upon its cancellation, this regulation cannot be enforced. Implementation of the Western Wall layout today! "
The ill-fated Western Wall plan, which would have altered the layout of the Western Wall Plaza and granted tacit recognition of the Reform Movement at the holy site.
In 2000, in response to a series of court rulings, the government opened the southern prayer space, consisting of several temporary platforms near Robinson’s Arch, to non-traditional prayer groups, including services led by the Reform and Conservative movements.
The Reform Movement, however, has demanded the southern prayer space be expanded and integrated into the larger Western Wall Plaza – in effect turning the southern prayer area into a third section of the existing Plaza, alongside the men’s and women’s sections.
In addition, representatives of the Reform and Conservative movements would be granted oversight of the expanded southern section of the Plaza – a move Orthodox opponents of the plan said was tantamount to recognition of the two movements, a violation of Israel’s decades-old Status Quo on religion and state.