US/World News

Non-Orthodox, Diaspora leaders praise Western Wall compromise

(JTA) — A chorus of non-Orthodox and Diaspora leaders praised the landmark interdenominational compromise on the Western Wall. (See Analysis, p. 10.) Women of the Wall, the women’s prayer group that holds monthly services in the Orthodox section, endorsed the change in a statement that read, “Women will pray at the Kotel as equals, as active participants and leaders in rituals, ceremonies and of course in reading from the Torah.” The agreement was negotiated among Women of the Wall, the site’s haredi Orthodox leadership, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Israeli government, and the Reform and Conservative movements. All parties praised the decision as path breaking.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal “a fair and creative solution.” The Israeli and American branches of both the Reform and Conservative movements also backed the deal. Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, said he heard the decision approving the agreement “with a heavy heart and a sigh of relief.” He added: “We must do everything to put this terrible chapter behind us.” However, Moshe Gafni, a haredi Orthodox lawmaker who chairs the Israeli Knesset’s powerful Finance Committee, said he would not recognize the decision.

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