Reform Jewish Women Pray with Knesset Members at Western Wall to Advocate for Religious Pluralism in Israel
Rabbi Marla Feldman: "The Israeli government must guarantee the rights and safety of all Jews who visit the Western Wall to pray and must not allow an extremist religious group to control this sacred space."
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Jerusalem, Israel, March 12, 2013 - Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) leaders today joined Knesset and Women of the Wall (WOW) members to pray at the Jewish holy site, the Western Wall, to celebrate the start of the new Jewish month and to promote religious freedom in Israel.
This monthly service, which today commemorated the month when Jews celebrate their freedom from slavery in Egypt, is held to advocate change to Orthodox rulings in Israel barring women from praying out loud at the Western Wall. According to media, today was the first time that police did not detain any participants.
Early this morning, WRJ women participated in the service with Knesset members Stav Shaffir, Michal Rozin, and Tamar Zandberg; Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center and chairwoman of WOW; and other WOW members at the Western Wall in Israel.
"WRJ joined Knesset members and Women of the Wall in prayer at the Western Wall to celebrate the beginning of a new month and to stand together for religious pluralism in Israel," said WRJ President Lynn Magid Lazar. "WRJ is committed to advancing the rights of women around the world, including the right of women to pray at the Western Wall according to their custom."
WRJ Executive Director Rabbi Marla J. Feldman said, "It is ironic that in Israel, women face the threat of being detained for wearing a tallit and praying out loud at the Western Wall while next Shabbat, we will pray freely with the Jewish community of Berlin with no restrictions or threats. The Israeli government must guarantee the rights and safety of all Jews who visit the Western Wall to pray and must not allow an extremist religious group to control this sacred space."
The WRJ women who participated in the service are traveling on a two-week WRJ Centennial Trip to Israel and Berlin, which includes learning more about women's issues in Israel and visiting grantees funded by WRJ's Youth, Education, and Special Projects Fund.
WRJ and the Reform Movement have continued to speak out about religious discrimination in Israel, most recently after Hoffman was arrested after praying at the Western Wall to celebrate the beginning the Jewish month of Cheshvan.
Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), founded in 1913, is the women's affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America. WRJ represents more than 65,000 women in nearly 500 women's groups worldwide and promotes women's issues and leadership through education, programming, and advocacy.