Praying Together at the Kotel

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Last time I was at the Kotel with my family, the kids were smaller and we were not allowed to approach the Kotel as a family. Today, this begins (and I say, “begins”) to change.

The Israeli government approved a plan for an enhanced egalitarian place of worship at the Kotel, the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s most holy sites. For decades men and women have been separated when praying at the Kotel. During IDF swearing in ceremonies, women soldiers were kept to the side and told not to sing, yet when entering battle, fought next to and with their male counterparts. The Kotel has been under the authority of the Orthodox with no flexibility or respect of other Jewish practice. Today, this changes.

“The government’s proposal – which is the result of a coordinated effort by the Reform and Conservative Movements, both in Israel and in North America, Women of the Wall, and the Jewish Federations of North America – calls for a significant revamping of the Western Wall area to create a more unified relationship between the three prayer areas (men’s, women’s, and egalitarian). The existing egalitarian space – near the area known as Robinson’s Arch – will be enhanced by the creation of an expanded platform with more access to the Western Wall, including from the ancient Herodian street. The site will be open through the main plaza by removing existing visual barriers and building a new, inviting entrance.” (URJ statement)

It will not go into affect at this moment, it’s going to take years of negotiations and plans to build this space, but this is an amazing first step.

I look forward to some day taking this picture again, not looking from afar with my family at the Kotel, but standing at the Kotel and praying and singing with full voices together with my husband, my daughter and my son.