Reform Jews want a say in Western Wall's worship

The Reform movement in the UK has urged members to sign a petition calling for non-Orthodox Jews to be given a say in the administration of the Western Wall, the Kotel, in Jerusalem.

The campaign has been launched by the Israel Religious Action Centre, the action arm of Progressive Judaism in Israel, which wants non-Orthodox Jews to be represented on the Western Wall Heritage Council.

It says that currently control of the Wall lies exclusively in “ultra-Orthodox” hands, with no place for “Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal, humanistic, and secular Jews”.

The time was “long overdue for our nation to recognise that there is more than one way to practise Judaism,” the petition says, “and to acknowledge the value and importance of supporting all denominations in Judaism.”
Reform chief executive Ben Rich said that he was “proud” to have signed the petition.

The campaign, he said, was “absolutely not a dispute between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jewry. Instead, this is about a vision of Jewry which is open and inclusive. The attempt to exclude some traditions from worshipping at the Kotel as they do in their synagogues is not only unjust, it is also self-defeating. To alienate the majority of Jews from our most holy site can only lessen commitment to and identification with our faith and traditions.”

IRAC has grown increasingly assertive over the past few years in pressing for greater state recognition of non-Orthodox Judaism in Israel.

The Israeli government recently announced it would fund the salaries of a number of non-Orthodox rabbis as it already does for thousands of Orthodox rabbis.

Last updated: 10:37am, August 30 2012