August 25, 2013, New York, NY – In response to Minister of Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett's announcement today regarding upgrades at the Kotel, the Reform Movement released the following statement:
The Kotel is a powerful symbol of the Jewish yearning for Israel and for the unity of the Jewish people. As such, it needs to be open and free to all Jews; women and men must be treated equally there.
That is precisely why we joined together with Jews from across the religious spectrum to endorse a plan by Jewish Agency Chairperson Natan Sharansky which, in its entirety, promises full equality for all streams of Judaism at the Kotel.
The temporary platform unveiled today by Minister of Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett, is a gesture of good will, but it is, at best, a very small step forward in the implementation of the full plan for full Jewish equality at the Kotel. Were it to be the first and last step regarding the Kotel, it would create a painful and unnecessary conflict within the Jewish People.
We urge the Prime Minister's office to maintain its commitment to the Sharansky proposal consistent with a partnership with all key stakeholders.
In the meantime, the Reform Movement insists that no changes will be made in the current legal situation allowing Women of the Wall to pray according to their custom in the Western Wall site.
We hope and pray that 5774 will be a year of ever deepening partnership between the State of Israel and World Jewry in insuring that in Judaism's holiest place there is room for each and every member of our people to pray freely and openly. May that spirit of respect and inclusion permeate daily life in the Jewish State and in our communities all across the globe.
Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)
Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR)
Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ)
Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)
Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ)
Women's Rabbinic Network (WRN)
World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ)