The purpose of this Resource page is to provide access to key resources on the Western Wall, and related challenges of religion and state in Israel.

If you come across relevant articles, op eds, scholarly papers; audios, videos, etc. in Hebrew and/or English that you think may be helpful to our members or our wider readership, please let us know so we can look them over.

Western Wall Prayer Protest, Summer 2016

READ:
“REFORM, CONSERVATIVE LEADERS TO NETANYAHU: INCITEMENT AGAINST US COULD LEAD TO BLOODSHED” – HAARETZ
by Rabbi John Rosove
READ:
KOTEL DEAL HEADED TO HIGH COURT?
by Joshua Mitnick
READ:
WE CANNOT GIVE UP THE WESTERN WALL TO ULTRA-ORTHODOX ‘FORCES OF DARKNESS’
by Rabbi Leon A. Morris and Rabbi Joel Levy

Jerusalem’s Sephardic chief rabbi on June 14 conducted an Orthodox prayer service at the mixed-gender plaza at the Western Wall, a site newly designated for Reform and Conservative worship. Accompanied by police and some two dozen worshipers, Rabbi Shomo Amar had a makeshift barrier to separate men and women erected before presiding over prayers at the site. [LINK]

Following this, the Israeli Masorti (Conservative) Movement issued a statement:

“Rabbi Amar’s provocation deliberately sabotages the Israel’s relations with world Jewry. It affects hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews who wish to pray at the Western Wall free of partitions,” a statement by the movement said.

“Using bullying, coercion and backed by the police…a partition was erected contrary to custom of the place.” it said. “During the service, Amar spoke out against the Western Wall compromise, the government and the courts — all of whom he has determined lack the authority to give the wall to anyone.”

Noting that Rabbi Amar had previously referred to Reform and Conservative Jews as “villains,” the statement called on Netanyahu to intervene.

Subsequently, the Reform and Conservative Movements organized an egalitarian prayer service on June 16 in the main Kotel plaza, in response and to protest for the implementation of the Western Wall Compromise, which PM Netanyahu’s Cabinet had approved. Violence ensued, with ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students attacking the 400 egalitarian worshipers, but the police in the vicinity did not intervene.

Click HERE for a letter to the Israel Police Inspector General from the Reform and Conservative Movements, asking him to please investigate the incident to ensure that deficits of this kind do not recur.

 

After the Western Wall agreement:

Netanyahu Buries Reform Kotel Section in Committee
David Israel, Jewish Press, Mar. 27, 2016

Bibi Blinks: Netanyahu Backs Away From Western Wall Prayer Deal
John A. Oswald, The Forward, Mar. 28, 2016

Netanyahu announces delay in implementing egalitarian section at Western Wall
Jeremy Sharon and Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 27, 2016

 

Government documents:

הודעת מזכיר הממשלה בתום ישיבת הממשלה מיום 31 בינואר 2016

Recommendations of The Advisory Team for the Issue of Prayer Arrangements at the Western Wall

 

Polls:

Ruderman Family Foundation: 82% of Israelis agree – “All Jews, including Reform and Conservative, should feel that the Western Wall [Kotel] belongs to him and that every Jew should feel welcome in Israel.”

 

Official statements:

Israel Religious Action Center

Jewish Federations of North America

Masorti-Conservative Movement, Worldwide

Reform Movement, North America

Women of the Wall, Statement

Women of the Wall, Overview, courtesy: Rabbi Pamela Frydman

 

Overview:

Prayer Deal Opens Rift Among Jewish Feminists
Michele Chabin, The Jewish Week, Feb. 3, 2016

New Western Wall Rules Break Down Barriers For Jewish Women
Emily Harris, NPR, Feb. 6, 2016

As Western Wall deal celebrated, haredi lawmaker calls Reform Jews ‘clowns’
JTA, Jan. 31, 2016

Israeli Government Approves New Egalitarian Prayer Space at Western Wall
Judy Maltz, Haaretz, Jan. 31, 2016

A timeline: Egalitarian prayer at the Kotel
The Masorti movement in Israel

Women Wrap Tefillin Together — But Split Over Western Wall Compromise Deal
Eeta Prince-Gibson, The Forward, Feb. 7, 2016

3 maps that explain the Western Wall compromise
Ben Sales, JTA, Jan. 31, 2016

Cabinet approves ‘historic’ decision to create Western Wall egalitarian prayer space
Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 31, 2016

 

Pro:

Argument: Good for pluralism / diaspora relations

Historic agreement on Western Wall ends long battle
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Jewish Journal, Feb. 3, 2016

The Kotel compromise: A time for rejoicing
Rabbi Denise Eger, Jewish Journal, Feb. 3, 2016

Regarding the Kotel compromise
Rabbi Pamela Frydman, Times of Israel blogs, Feb. 11, 2016

The Kotel compromise: Recognizing there is more than one way to be a Jew
Rabbi Laura Geller, Jewish Journal, Feb. 3, 2016

The compromise is an earthquake (Hebrew)
Yizhar Hess, ynet, Jan. 31, 2016

In favor of the agreement (Hebrew)
Zvi Hauser, former Israeli Cabinet Secretary, Feb. 8, 2016

Historic agreement on Western Wall ends long battle
JTA Staff, Jweekly, Feb. 4, 2016

Better seats at the back of the bus?
Rabbi Barry Leff, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 4, 2016

God’s Presence and the Western Wall ­
Rabbi Barry Leff, The Neshamah Center, Feb. 11, 2016

A new vision of Kotel future: Part one
Bonnie Riva Ras (WOW Board Member), Jerusalem Post, Jan. 31, 2016

Making History at the Kotel
Rabbi Andrew Sacks, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 31, 2016

One journey for one people
Natan Sharansky, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 18, 2016

Western Wall deal hailed as historic victory for non-Orthodox
Steve Linde, Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 1, 2016

Argument: Change in the right direction towards religious freedom

This IS a compromise
Rabbi Stanley Davids, RRFEI Executive Committee, Jan. 31, 2016

The Kotel is just the beginning (Hebrew)
Mickey Gitzin (Israel Hofsheet), ynet, Feb. 4, 2016

Women of the Wall victory can teach us a few things
Batya Kallus (WOW Board Member), 972mag, Feb. 5, 2016

American Reform leaders see Kotel deal as foundation for further gains
Sam Sokol, The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 23, 2016

Argument: Total separation (Orthodox from Heterodox)

The compromise with Women of the Wall: the Haredim bless the “total separation” (Hebrew)
Yaki Admakar, Walla!, Jan. 28, 2016

Letter to the Chief Rabbis of Israel (Hebrew)
Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl, Feb. 22, 2016

Why one haredi leader supports Western Wall deal with ‘heretical’ Reform Jews
Ben Sales, JTA, Feb. 29, 2016

 

Anti:

Argument: Betrayal of Modern Orthodox women and women’s prayer groups at traditional Kotel plaza

Activist women say new plan ‘banishes’ them from Western Wall
Amanda Borschel-Dan (“Original” Women of the Wall), Times of Israel, Feb. 4, 2016

Not a Victory
Dr. Phyllis Chesler (“Original” Women of the Wall), Tablet Magazine, Feb. 3, 2016

Setting the record straight: Women of the Wall
Dr. Phyllis Chesler (“Original” Women of the Wall), Times of Israel, Feb. 5, 2016

A Heralded Compromise That STILL Leaves Out Women
Tamra Dollin, JOFA’s The Torch, Feb. 3, 2016

Orthodox Women May Stand to Lose Under Sharansky’s Proposal
Shayna Finman, Jewish Press, Apr. 30, 2013

Rabbi Rabinowitz is an Inquisitor (Hebrew)
Dr. Hannah Kehat, Arutz7, Feb. 5, 2016

Center for Women’s Justice: We oppose any agreement that prevents women from praying with tefillin and talitot at the Kotel (Hebrew)
Judy Maltz & Yair Ettinger, Haaretz, Jan. 30, 2016

The Real Women of the Wall Aren’t Going Anywhere
Dr. Vanessa Ochs (“Original” Women of the Wall), The Forward, Feb. 2, 2016

Why we will not negotiate our rights to pray at the Western Wall
Dr. Vanessa Ochs (“Original” Women of the Wall), Religion News Service, Feb. 5, 2016

When is a compromise not a compromise?
Cheryl Birkner Mack (“Original” Women of the Wall), Jewish Journal, Feb. 26, 2016

Deal or no deal: We shall not be moved
Dr. Shulamit S. Magnus (“Original” Women of the Wall), Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28, 2016

What’s behind the curtain in the Kotel deal?
Dr. Shulamit S. Magnus (“Original” Women of the Wall), Jerusalem Post, Feb. 25, 2016

Is the Kotel Compromise Another ‘Status Quo’ Agreement?
Alden Solovy, The Forward, Feb. 23, 2016

Women’s prayer: A voice from the heart
Andrea Wiese (“Original” Women of the Wall), Times of Israel blogs, Feb. 7, 2016

Argument: Damaging to Jewish unity

In favor of diversity

Against dividing the Kotel (Hebrew)
Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Kipa, Jan. 28, 2016

Compromise Creates Two Western Walls for Two Peoples
Yair Ettinger, Haaretz, Jan. 31, 2016

In favor of religious uniformity

Mixed emotions about the Kotel compromise
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Jewish Journal, Feb. 3, 2016

The paratroopers continue to cry (Hebrew)
Israel Harel, nrg, Feb. 7, 2016

Chief Rabbi says Kotel allocation a mistake
Rabbi David Lau (Chief Rabbi of Israel), Arutz7, Feb. 6, 2016

The Kotel lost. We all lost. (Hebrew)
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz (Rabbi of the Western Wall), ynet, Feb. 2, 2016

Not a victory but a bitter defeat
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz (Rabbi of the Western Wall), Jerusalem Post, Feb. 3, 2016

Does Anyone Really Benefit from ‘Balkanizing’ the Kotel?
Rabbi Avi Shafran (Agudath Israel of America), Feb. 2, 2016

In favor of cultural uniformity

The Kotel decision: A Sephardic Jew responds
Rabbi Daniel Bouskila, Jewish Journal, Feb. 3, 2016

Shut down the Kotel!
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, Times of Israel blogs, Feb. 17, 2016

The Kotel Deal Isn’t Good Enough
Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, The Jewish Week, Feb. 23, 2016

Argument: The agreement is a capitulation to the ultra-Orthodox establishment / Robinson’s Arch is “less than” the traditional Kotel plaza

Am Yisrael does not feel comfortable at the Kotel (Hebrew)
MK Rachel Azaria, News1, Feb. 4, 2016

Why the Kotel Compromise Just Isn’t Good Enough
Gabriela Geselowitz, The Forward, Jan. 31, 2016

Giving away the Kotel
Alden Solovy, Times of Israel, Feb. 5, 2017

Western Wall Prayer Space Deal Is a Capitulation to Fundamentalists
Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz, Jan. 31, 2016

Argument: Against (recognition of) non-Orthodoxy

“He can’t deal with pressure” (Hebrew) – the Chief Rabbis of Jerusalem oppose Rabbi Rabinowitz
Guy Ezra, Srugim, Jan. 31, 2016

Reform Jews should be sent to the dogs (Hebrew)
MK Meir Porush, Haredim10, Feb. 1, 2016

Ultra-Orthodox surrender = recognition of Reform (Hebrew)
Rabbi Chaim Shaulson, In the Haredi world, Feb. 5, 2016

Argument: Pluralistic plaza violates Waqf jurisdiction over Jerusalem’s holy places

Jordan tells Israel to halt Western Wall expansion plans
Times of Israel Staff, Times of Israel, Feb. 7, 2016

Argument: A hollow victory in the war over religion-state in Israel

What’s So Holy About the Western Wall Anyway?
Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz, Feb. 5, 2016

 

Ambivalent:

Argument: The Western Wall is not the most important religion & state issue in Israel / The agreement may distract from other issues of religion & state

Why the Western Wall deal is a victory for now, but not forever
Rabbi Debra Bennet, JTA, Feb. 8, 2016

The Kotel agreement: The good & the bad
Hiddush press release, Jan. 31, 2016

Is the Kotel Deal Merely a Fig Leaf For Rabbinic Tyranny?
Rabbi Uri Regev and Hiddush Chairman Stanley Gold, The Forward’s Sisterhood blog, Feb. 2, 2016

After Kotel compromise, dramatic changes still needed
Rabbi Uri Regev, The Jewish Journal, Feb. 3, 2016

Is the Kotel compromise good for the Jews? (Hebrew)
Rabbi Uri Regev, ynet, Feb. 6, 2016

Why the Kotel compromise matters – and doesn’t
Ben Sales, Times of Israel, Feb. 1 2016

We Progressive Jews Are Celebrating the Western Wall Deal but We’re Not Naïve
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, Haaretz, Feb. 1, 2016

Argument: Damaging to Jewish unity

The two Kotels solution: Cheer it with a grain of sadness
Shmuel Rosner, Jewish Journal, Feb. 1, 2016

Argument: This unlikely to lead to further necessary policy changes

After Historic Deal At Kotel, Next Steps Seen As Elusive
Hannah Dreyfus, The Jewish Week, Feb. 3, 2016

Argument: Betrayal of Modern Orthodox women and women’s prayer groups at traditional Kotel plaza

Kotel Deal Cuts Both Ways
Francine Klagsbrun, The Jewish Week, Feb. 9, 2016

Argument: The Kotel has come to symbolize dispute among Jews

The Wall of Disputes
Ariel Picard, Shalom Hartman Institute, Feb. 15, 2016