Latest Phase of Kosel Plan Fails to Satisfy Reform

YERUSHALAYIM -
The egalitarian prayer section at the Kosel.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Reform movement and Women of the Wall rejected as insufficient a proposal from the government on Tuesday for an 18 million shekel renovation of the pluralistic prayer area at the Kosel, The Times of Israel reported.

The proposal reportedly covered only physical improvements to the venue, and did not address any of the more contentious aspects of a 2016 plan which has been indefinitely suspended. That plan called for official recognition in the form of shared access to the main Kosel plaza for their participants, as well as administration independent of the Rabbinate and regular funding.

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, dismissed the heterodox groups’ demands, telling Hamodia on Tuesday:

“We stand by our previous statements: the demands of the liberal movements have nothing to do with prayer or need for more space at the Kotel. It’s a political move to get them official recognition. The Israeli people do not want Reform Judaism. The egalitarian section at the Kotel remains basically empty,” Rabbi Lerner said.

Commenting on the proposal, Women of the Wall director Lesley Sachs told The Times of Israel, “The physical aesthetic is but one component of this agreement. Until and unless all conditions of the agreement are fulfilled,” her group will continue its boycott of the new plaza.

In attendance at the meeting in the Prime Minister’s Office were Cabinet Secretary Tzahi Braverman representing Prime Minister Netanyahu, Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky and Women of the Wall spokesperson Elizabeth Kirshner.

Sharansky and the PMO declined to comment on Monday’s meeting.