In all the excitement about Natan Sharansky’s proposal for the Kotel (“Equal Prayer At Western Wall” and Editorial, April 20), the following is forgotten: It banishes the Torah from the women’s section at the Kotel and, ironically, also banishes the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Renewal denominations from the Kotel.
Why is this being greeted as a breakthrough solution? Robinson’s Arch is already available for mixed-gender egalitarian prayer for a small number of worshippers during limited hours. Sharansky proposes to expand this archeological site — something that will probably never happen. The archaeologists will fight it as will the Waqf [the Islamic group with control over the Temple Mount]. Even if there is no opposition, the project could cost $200 million and take 10 years.
Even then, it will not satisfy the mission of Women of the Wall, the only group that has been the driving force behind all the lawsuits and headlines, namely, the right to pray in a women-only group in the women-only section at the Kotel with a Torah, tallit, and out loud.
Once again, women who want to pray together with Clal Yisrael—especially Orthodox women — have been ignored by Sharansky, the media and North American streams of Judaism. This is ironic because, unlike traditional Orthodox and haredi groups, these streams have been trying so hard to include women in their religious practice.
The writer is a founder of the International Committee for Women of the Wall, and co-author of “Women of the Wall. Claiming Sacred Ground at Judaism’s Holy Site.”