The Common Good

Feminists Call Temporary Western Wall Prayer Platform a ‘Sundeck'

JERUSALEM — One week after unveiling an expanded prayer platform near the Western Wall, Israel’s Minister of Religious Affairs reached out to Reform and Conservative Jews in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah, which begins Wednesday evening.

RNS photo by Michele Chabin
RNS photo by Michele Chabin

Related Reading

Take Action on This Issue

Circle of Protection for a Moral Budget

A pledge by church leaders from diverse theological and political beliefs who have come together to form a Circle of Protection around programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world.

But while the non-Orthodox leaders welcomed the new platform that can accommodate up to 450 worshippers, a group of Jewish feminists called it nothing more than “a sun deck” designed to marginalize anyone who is not Ultra-Orthodox from praying at the Wall.

Naftali Bennett, the religious affairs minister, called for “a new page in the Israeli-Diaspora relationship” in his letter to leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements, whose institutions and clergy have no official status and receive virtually no government funding.

The temporary prayer platform at Robinson’s Arch, near the southern part of the Western Wall, serves as a government-designated place for mixed gender, non-Orthodox prayer.

The government permits only Orthodox prayer at the northern part of the Wall,  called the Kotel, a remnant of the Jewish Temple. A recent court ruling said the feminist group, Women of the Wall, should be allowed to pray in prayer shawls and phylacteries in the main women’s section, which is separated from the men’ section by a partition.

Women at the Wall staged a sit-in at the Kotel when the platform was announced. It would like women to pray in the women’s section at the Kotel.

The Reform and Conservative movements sought reassurances from Bennett that the government would implement the so-called Sharansky Plan, which, if approved, would create a permanent prayer space accommodating thousands of worshipers, as opposed to the temporary platform that accommodates hundreds.

Michele Chabin writes for Religion News Service. Via RNS.

Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Related Stories


Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)