The proposal of Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky with regard to prayer at the Kotel has, properly, received considerable attention. In that regard, you will find below an English translation of the statement of the Masorti movement and the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel. It balances warm praise for Chairman Sharansky's efforts with a realistic recognition that there are many details to be addressed.
Among the factors that likely motivated Prime Minister Netanyahu to seek Natan Sharansky's help was the growth of Masorti and the increasing interest of Israelis in non-Orthodox forms of worship.
It is worth repeating that Masorti is now both literally and figuratively on the map.
Please urge your congregants and friends to support the work of Masorti in Israel by making a donation online at http://www.masorti.org/donate.php, or by mailing a check to us at: Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832, New York, NY 10115-0122.
The Sharansky Kotel Initiative: a statement from the Masorti Movement and the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel
The Masorti movement and Rabbinical Assembly in Israel welcome the draft proposal presented by JAFI Chairman Natan Sharansky.
As the full details have not yet been presented it is difficult to fully embrace the proposed plan, but at this point it appears to us to be a courageous step whose intent is to create a new division of all areas of the Kotel which will enable egalitarian prayer in an area similar in size to that for non-egalitarian prayer; will supply the same support and services to all prayer groups as provided at the Kotel today (including Sifrei Torah, Aronot Kodesh and tables for reading from the Torah and Siddurim which reflect the tradition of each stream which comes to pray); will be accessible and open for prayers all hours of the day, all days of the week, for every holiday and festival; will create a common entrance from which all individuals and groups can easily go to the part of the Kotel of choice and will not harm the archaeological value of the area;
The ultimate fate of the initiative will be found in the details. Will there be a proposal which includes all of the above and that is worthy of discussion and, with adjustments as needed, can lead to agreement? A proposal in which the State of Israel clearly recognizes the full right of the pluralistic streams of Judaism to pray according to their custom – and in equal conditions – in the most sacred area for the Jewish people, will likely further a compromise which will return the Kotel to its the position as a site of unity of the Jewish people rather than one of conflict and dispute. The State of Israel, the state of the Jewish people, must be a place where all Jews feel at home. We hope that the compromise called for regarding the Kotel will pave the way to full equality and mutual understanding among the various streams of Judaism in Israel as suggested by the Talmud, "these and these are the words of the living God" (Eruvin, Shabbat 21B, 13) "אלו ואלו דברי אלוהים חיים" (עירובין יג, ע"ב) .
To learn more, please contact: Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832 New York, NY 10115-0068 (212) 870-2216; 1-877-287-7414 http://www.masorti.org/; firstname.lastname@example.org