Jewish Agency committee calls for new approach to prayer at Kotel
JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Jewish Agency committee has adopted a resolution calling for a “satisfactory approach” to prayer at the Western Wall. The resolution passed Tuesday during the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Board of Governors meeting in Tel Aviv, reads in part: “Whereas Jewish women and men, of all streams of Judaism, desire the opportunity to pray at the Western Wall of Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) in a manner that fulfills their religious expression, and in an atmosphere of mutual respect and Ahavat Yisrael” and calls for “the Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, consulting with the Committee for the Unity of the Jewish People, and working with Jewish Agency-Israel Government Coordinating Committee and other appropriate bodies, including the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, to arrive at a satisfactory approach to the issue of prayer at the Western Wall of Har Habayit.”
The resolution comes in the wake of the arrest and alleged roughing-up by police earlier this month at the Western Wall of Anat Hoffman, leader of Women of the Wall and the Reform movement’s Israel Religious Action Center. Hoffman was wearing a tallit and leading the Shema prayer at a Rosh Chodesh service for about 200 women.
The Reform movement has called for an Israeli police investigation into the incident in which Hoffman said she was put in shackles, dragged across a jail floor and put into a cell overnight without a blanket, being forced to use her tallit to cover herself.
In 2003, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that women cannot wear a tallit or tefillin or chant from a Torah at the Western Wall.