It’s more than a wall.
Whether you refer to it as the Kosel or the Kotel, there is no denying our deeply-rooted ties to this holy site. For 2,000 years, this wondrous space has been the physical embodiment of our nation’s endurance through the darkest of times.
Our sages teach us that even after the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, Hashem’s presence has never left the Kotel. Each of us have felt it. And every visitor, no matter their religious affiliation, respected it.
But today, this status quo is being threatened by those who don’t share our values. With the supposed claim that Jews in the Diaspora wish to see this tragic change, it is incumbent upon us to set the record straight. The Am Echad petition is our united voice to protect our most prized asset.
Be part of it. It’s our duty.
Petition Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to preserve the sanctity of the Kotel.
What is the “Kotel Compromise”?
Following negotiations between the Israeli government, Women of the Wall, and the Reform and Conservative movements, the Israeli government came up with a “Kotel Compromise” that, if implemented, would partition the Kotel into two plazas – the “traditional Kotel Plaza” (as we know it), and a heterodox plaza for mixed prayer.
Under the compromise, access to the Kotel will be through a joint entrance with three equal pathways, so that visitors can choose between the men’s section, the women’s section, and the mixed section.
The mixed section will be expanded to be almost as large as the current plaza (70%), and the government will spend millions of shekels for the area’s development and continuous function.
The oversight and management of the new section would be removed from the Rabbi of the Kotel and the Chief Rabbinate and handed over to a committee comprised of the representatives of the Jewish Agency, the Reform movement, and liberal organizations. This body will also manage the budget for running the mixed section.
Finally, all prayers in accordance with halacha will be forbidden in the mixed section.
What is the danger of the Kotel Compromise?
The goal of the liberal movements in promoting the Compromise is to gain validation and official recognition in Israel as equivalent forms of Judaism, on par with Torah-true observance.
By creating a joint and equal entrance, the liberal organizations try to undermine the centuries-old tradition of prayer at the Kotel.
Furthermore, this is a dangerous precedent of official recognition by the Israeli government, giving reform rabbis equal standing with the Chief Rabbinate, which until now has been in charge of decisions on Jewish practice in the public sphere. These groups will use the Compromise as leverage for further demands of full equality in areas of conversion, marriage, and kashrut.
How will the Kotel Compromise affect Jewish unity?
The Kotel is one of the last symbols of Jewish unity. We can all come here to pray and connect with our faith and heritage.
Partitioning the Kotel will set in stone, quite literally, the differences between us and will send an eternal message of separation among various Jewish groups.
Furthermore, the implementation of the Compromise will create a tremendous amount of strife between various Jewish groups and will undermine the achdut of Jewish people.
Wouldn’t a separate prayer area put an end to the strife at the Kotel?
No. Certain organizations currently fighting against the status quo at the Kotel Plaza have rejected the Kotel Compromise and declared that will continue to demand that the courts allow them to hold ceremonies that are against halachah anywhere in the Kotel Plaza.
The intent of these organizations expresses the danger of approving this agreement because it represents only the first step of legitimizing the demands for further changes (even in the sections that are for separate prayer).
In the Supreme Court case of Women of the Wall, their representative declared that their end-game is the obliteration of the mechitza at the Kotel and turning the traditional Kotel Plaza into a secular national monument. The Kotel Compromise is only a step in that direction.
What can I do?
You can send a message to the Israeli government: Sign the petition calling on Prime Minister Bennett to refrain from partitioning the Kotel.
While the “Kotel Compromise” was reached in 2016, the Israeli government froze it under considerable pressure from the religious community. However, the current government, influenced heavily by Reform Knesset members in the coalition, has vowed to implement the plan and may do so at any moment.