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Reform, Conservative movements call on PM to shore up security at Western Wall egalitarian section

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

An ultra-Orthodox youth wipes his nose with a page torn from a siddur at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall on June 30, 2022. (Screen capture: Masorti movement on Twitter)
An ultra-Orthodox youth wipes his nose with a page torn from a siddur at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall on June 30, 2022. (Screen capture: Masorti movement on Twitter)

The heads of the American Reform and Conservative Movements appeal to Prime Minister Yair Lapid after ultra-Orthodox zealots overran bar and bat mitzvah services being held at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall last week, imploring him to shore up security at the site and ensure its future existence for progressive Jews.

“Mr. prime minister, we turn to you because this situation cannot go on. We represent millions of Jews who cannot tolerate such behavior, who are tired of being treated as second-class citizens at the Wall,” write Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, head of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

The two rabbis call for Lapid to implement the long-stalled Western Wall compromise, an agreement that would give non-Orthodox representation and official status in the management of the holy site.

“We are aware of the complex political situation. But we believe this time presents an opportunity for Tikkun (repair). It is time to begin a new era, which will start to repair the grave injustice which has been occurring on a daily basis at the Wall towards liberal Jews,” they write.

They call for Lapid to instruct police to intervene to prevent violent disruptions at the egalitarian section; to ensure that the area remains open to mixed-gender prayer; to fix the facilities at the site to allow worshipers to reach the stones of the Wall; and to make representatives of the movements the official managers of the site.

“All these steps can be taken tomorrow. We know there are many challenges for the prime minister of Israel. But this is one challenge which should be and can be addressed immediately,” they say.

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