A women’s prayer group agreed in principle to pray in a new egalitarian space adjacent to the Western Wall Plaza, provided that the space meets several conditions regarding design and management.
Until those conditions are met, Women of the Wall said in a statement that it will continue praying at the women’s section of the Western Wall, as the group has for 25 years. Before now, though, the group had stated that a new, egalitarian section of the wall would not be “relevant” to its needs.
Monday’s policy change brings Women of the Wall in line with other non-Orthodox groups in Israel, such as the Conservative and Reform movements, which saw the new section as an answer to their requests for pluralism at the holy site. Yizhar Hess, CEO of the Conservative movement in Israel, called the change “a very positive step.”
The egalitarian section, to be located in an area adjacent to the plaza known as Robinson’s Arch, was first proposed in April as part of a plan by Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky to resolve religious conflict at the wall.
Women of the Wall’s chairwoman, Anat Hoffman, told JTA that the policy change will give Women of the Wall more influence over how the new section is designed.
“For an organization that’s always been small and very dedicated, we are now going to become players at the political table, which means we’ll have to compromise on our demands,” she said. “Pure ideology does not reality make.”