2016-02-03 / Editorial

Western Wall agreement is a groundbreaking compromise

After decades of conflict, leaders of Judaism’s three largest denominations reached a compromise on the future of prayer at the Western Wall. And like most negotiations derived after long, acrimonious battles, it’s not perfect – but praiseworthy all the same.

The compromise will expand the Wall’s egalitarian section, known as Robinson’s Arch, and place it under the authority of a pluralist committee while solidifying haredi Orthodox control over the site’s traditional, Orthodox section.

This marks the first time the Israeli government has recognized the customs of Reform and Conservative prayer.

“It’s very ambitious, a dramatic change, and it will make history,” Anat Hoffman, Women of the Wall director, told the Jewish Daily Forward. “It’s not everything we were hoping for, but we will compromise.”

The agreement was negotiated among Women of the Wall, the site’s haredi Orthodox leadership, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Israeli government, and the Reform and Conservative movements. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said the compromise ensured that “everybody wins in the end,” while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal “a fair and creative solution.”

Commented the Jewish Federations of North America: It “sends a powerful message to Israelis and Jews across the Diaspora about the permanent value of Jewish pluralism and about what we can do when we work together.”

There are other civil rights issues that affect the daily lives of Israelis to be tackled, such as the desire to enact civil marriage and to recognize non- Orthodox rabbis. However, if disparate minds can come up with this creative solution, perhaps compromise to these problems will soon be in the offing ..

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