(New York, NY, April 9, 2003) - The following statement was released by ARZA/World Union, North America, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and Women of Reform Judaism in response to the recent decision of the Israeli Supreme Court to reject the petition of Women of the Wall to pray at the Western Wall with a Torah scroll:
"The decision by the Supreme Court of Israel to reject Women of the Wall's petition to hold organized prayer services including Torah reading at the Western Wall is a profound disappointment.
"Reform Judaism in North America is committed in its pursuit of religious freedom in Israel and the full and equal participation of women in religious life. The Western Wall (Kotel) is not an Orthodox synagogue but a sacred public space for all Jews, irrespective of religious practice. Jews around the world hold a deep emotional attachment to the Kotel. The Supreme Court's designation of Robinson's Arch as a replacement site for the Women of the Wall denies the centrality of the Western Wall to our religious life as Jews. Although an important historical and archeological site, the Arch does not hold the same significance as the Kotel.
"While, of course, we accept the authority of the Supreme Court's decision, we are encouraged that four of the nine Court justices supported the petition of Women of the Wall (WoW). We are hopeful that as history progresses, the activities of the WoW will be upheld in both the court of law and the domain of Israeli public opinion. We pledge our movement's continuing support and involvement in these future efforts and draw inspiration from the worldwide demonstrations of support for Women of the Wall. We admire their courage and conviction.
"Women in Israel enjoy equality under the law in more areas of life than is enjoyed by women in many other places around the world. Yet, the campaign for equal rights for women in Israel is ongoing. There are many more battles to be won and the Reform Jewish Movement will continue its fight to achieve equality for all Jews and all citizens of Israel."
The Union of American Hebrew Congregations is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. UAHC services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.
ARZA/World Union, North America is the representative of North America's Reform Jewish community for issues pertaining to Israel and Zionism, as well as the voice of matters related to Reform Judaism worldwide. ARZA/World Union, North America is the North American representative of the World Union for Progressive Judaism and is an affiliate of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
Women of Reform Judaism, The Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, representing 100,000 women in 600 local Sisterhoods throughout the United States, Canada and thirteen other countries, is the women's agency of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America.