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Sharansky Proposes a Third Section to the Western Wall

‏יום רביעי ‏10 ‏אפריל ‏2013

In an announcement on Tuesday, Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky proposed his solution to the problem of detaining the Women of the Wall for wearing their tallitot – making a third section to the wall for egalitarian prayer services.  This proposal is in accordance with the one that the IMPJ suggested to PM Netanyahu.

The Jerusalem Post reported that his idea would allow so that “all the Wall will be accessible 24 hours a day... there will be the opportunity to touch the Wall on all its length” and “there will be one entrance through which the people are coming.”

According to Ynetnews, the Western Wall’s Rabbi Rabinowitz said “This re-division of the plaza does not match my worldview, as I believe that there should be one site of prayer according to the place's customs, but we can live with this solution.”

The Jewish Daily Forward noted that "the area now known as Robinson’s Arch on the southern end of the Wall will be greatly expanded to create a prayer space roughly equivalent to the existing men’s and women’s sections. Egalitarian prayer is currently permitted at the Arch, which is an archaeological site, but that prayer is only available at limited times and with an entrance fee."

In the meantime, Women of the Wall are being cautiously supportive of this proposal, after recent treats by police to arrest women who say the mourner’s prayer at the Wall during Rosh Chodesh Iyar services (scheduled to take place the morning of April 11). Ha’aretz noted that this was totally unacceptable and they would “continue in their mission, until women are able to read from the Torah and pray out loud there, until girls can have their bat mitzvah ceremonies at the Wall and until women soldiers can sing the national anthem there.”

In October 2012, the IMPJ, together with IRAC, issued a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu calling for a third section to the wall. In the letter, it clearly states “The Third Section will be a mixed section in which women will be permitted to pray while wearing a Tallit and to read from the Torah. Mixed Bar Mitzvah ceremonies will be permitted in this section, and girls will be allowed to hold Bat Mitzvah celebrations in which they read from the Torah.” A full English version of that letter can be found here…