Jewish Federations of North America backs Kotel compromise efforts

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) Monday called on Israeli and Diaspora leaders to ensure the Western Wall once again becomes a “spiritual center for all Jews” in an official resolution supporting Natan Sharansky’s plan for women’s prayer at the Kotel.

The JFNA Board of Trustees and its Delegate Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution to support the Jewish Agency Chair in his efforts to find a compromise to the issue of equal prayer access at the Wall.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Sharansky to solve the issue, in the wake of demonstrations by the Women of the Wall and counter-protests by some ultra-Orthodox groups. 

“Jewish Federations and our community greatly appreciate the efforts of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Sharansky, and those of religious leaders across the community, who seek to unite our people by ensuring individuals can pray as they choose at the Kotel,” said Michael Siegal, chair of the JFNA Board of Trustees.

The resolution, drafted by JFNA’s Rabbinic Cabinet, which represents a cross section of rabbis from all religious streams, expresses JFNA’s “appreciation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s continued commitment to work on behalf of and to strengthen Jewish unity by seeking to resolve the issue.”

The Sharansky plan calls for a dedicated egalitarian prayer space at the Robinson’s Arch area of the Wall. JFNA also promised to work with Sharansky as he “develops a pathway whereby the Kotel will once again become a spiritual center for all Jews and a symbol of unity for the entire Jewish community world-wide.”

“By issuing this resolution, the Jewish Federations are giving voice to the strong desire across our community to resolve this critical issue and ensure that all Jews can experience the most spiritually powerful place in Judaism,” said JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman.

JFNA has been convening Sharansky and religious leaders from across the spectrum for meetings at its New York offices to discuss the issue, with the most recent gathering taking place last week.

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