Conservative movement books at place
Conservative movement books at placeLiba Center

In recent days, the Liba Center association that battles attempts by non-Orthodox movements to gain recognition in Israel approached Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz demanding he set up an Ark for prayer arrangements at the southern Kotel ("Ezrat Yisrael").

The demand comes in light of the increase in the number of worshipers visiting the Southern Plaza and holding prayer quorums.

The request was submitted to Rabbi Rabinowitz by attorney Moshe Polski, who approached the rabbi as head of the holy places.

"As is well known, in the Western Wall plaza, adjacent to the southern wall, there are frequent prayer services attended by a large community of worshipers." Attorney Polski writes to the rabbi, "The problem is that unlike the Central Wall plaza, there is no Ark with prayer arrangements in the place. This makes it difficult for those present in the place who wish to arrange their prayer from the Siddur, also books of Psalms are lacking there."

In the letter, Polski added, "It is proper and even desirable that this matter be arranged, and that a closet with prayer books in accordance with the customs of all the communities, Ashkenaz, Sephard, Edot HaMizrach, and more. Also Psalms should be available there in a proper way just as it is in the Western Wall Plaza for the use of the worshipers."

In conclusion, Liba noted the fact that in the Southern Plaza there are Reform and Conservative bookshelves and that this is an injustice. "It's also necessary in view of the fact that a cabinet is in the place where books are placed for use by a relatively and absolutely negligible public, and there is no place to discriminate against a large public of worshipers," they finished.

Copies of the letter were also sent to Western Wall Heritage Foundation Director Mordechai (Soli) Eliav, and to Jewish Quarter Reconstruction and Development Company Director Herzl Ben-Ari.

On Rosh Chodesh Iyar prayers were held in the Southern Plaza, and a partition was also set up to preserve the separation between male and female worshipers. Thanks to this process, dozens arrived at the square who held several minyan quorums at the site. During the intermediate days of Passover, more than 100 minyanim were held in the southern square, in which 3,000 people participated. This indicates an increase in the number of worshipers in the area, according to Chief Rabbinate data.

Liba responded, "The sad reality that many thousands of worshipers who come to the Southern Plaza of the Western Wall during the year should need to drag with them their prayer books, the partition, and the Torah scrolls is absurd. This while Reform who harm Israel's tradition have organized closets with equipment in place.

"We demand from the authorities that the place be maintained, and not for the first time, that the thousands of worshipers be given the basic conditions that are appropriate for worshipers at the Western Wall, according to the ruling of the Chief Rabbinate."