B’nai B’rith International welcomes the significant compromise Israel has struck regarding Jewish prayer at the Western Wall, or Kotel. Earlier this week religious leaders and government officials reached an agreement to expand the non-Orthodox Jewish section at the Wall. The historic deal will double the size of the non-Orthodox Jewish prayer area to almost 10,000 square feet.
This is a positive result for women and men who wish to pray in an egalitarian setting, one that should lessen the tension between the different Jewish denominations. It will also preserve the right of Orthodox Jews to pray at the Kotel according to traditional Jewish practices.
A new single entrance will now direct visitors to both areas and the non-Orthodox section will be supervised by a council of government officials and non-Orthodox leaders.
B’nai B’rith hopes that Israeli society will benefit from the cooperation between Orthodox and non-Orthodox communities that this compromise represents. We further hope that relations between Israel and the Diaspora will profit from the inclusiveness of the new prayer arrangement at Judaism’s holiest site, which progressive Jewish movements have long sought.