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The Kotel is for ALL Jews

The Kotel is for ALL Jews

Tel Aviv is a city known for its beautiful beaches. Our beaches might look like many other Mediterranean countries, but there is something very unique about the beaches in Tel Aviv. We have one that is segregated.

Usually when I write about segregation you can expect me to rail against it, but this is different. I think it is wonderful that Israel has one beach that is segregated by gender. While 95% of Tel Aviv’s beaches are mixed areas where men and women enjoy the sun and surf together, there is one walled off section where religious Jews can come and swim in a setting that is comfortable for them. Israel’s beaches are a resource for all Israelis so having a place for haredi Jews alongside secular Jews shows that the potential for compromise actually exists (at least at the beach.)

Travel one hour to Jerusalem and that spirit of compromise disappears. The Kotel (Western Wall) is run by one group, and they are Orthodox. Efforts to set up areas for mixed services have sometimes met with violent opposition from haredi Jews. Why is there no other representation on the Western Wall Heritage Council? The Kotel is holy to all Jews but decisions about it are made by a very few.

Why can we coexist in one place but not another? We don’t throw sand at them when they are swimming so why do they hurl stones and insults at us when we are praying? For too many years we have simply accepted this status quo, but the time has come to stand up and stake our claim at Judaism’s holiest site.

IRAC is launching a major campaign to compel the Western Wall Heritage Council to appoint members that represents Jews from all backgrounds and not just the ultra-Orthodox. As we prepare to go to court, we need your help to demonstrate how significant this issue is for Progressive Jews all over the world.

The first step in this campaign is to show the Israeli government clearly that the current situation does not reflect the wishes of the majority of world Jewry. We have made a petition, and we are going to spend the next two months trying to collect 50,000 signatures. We will present it to the government as part of our campaign to gain non-Orthodox representation on the Western Wall Heritage Council.

Please sign it and help us collect signatures. We need to work together to collect enough names to launch this campaign with the proper mandate from tens of thousands of supporters for equality.

Working together we will see our Kotel became a place that, just like the beaches in Tel Aviv, represent the kind of thoughtful compromise that defines a mature democracy.

Action Alert: Sign our petition

This petition demands that the Western Wall Heritage Council include members that represent all streams of Jewish practice as well as gender balance. Please sign it and pass it along to as many people as you can. We are trying to reach 50,000 signatures by the end of July.

Published: 6/11/2012

Categories: Social Justice
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