Jewish Agency's Plan to Safeguard non-Orthodox Jews at Western Wall

The Jewish Agency passes a resolution that comes in response to an incident several weeks ago in which families affiliated with the Conservative movement were attacked by dozens of ultra-Orthodox boys at the Western Wall

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man tries to prevent Anat Hoffman (C), the founder and President of the liberal Jewish religious group Women of the Wall, and members of the group, from entering the women's section of the Western Wall while carrying a Torah scroll, in the Old city of Jerusalem on November 2, 2016, during a protest by the group demanding equal prayer rights at the site.
An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man tries to prevent Anat Hoffman (C), at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel, November 2, 2016.Credit: Emil Salman
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

The Jewish Agency board of governors passed a resolution on Tuesday to implement a plan, in cooperation with the Israeli government, which would prevent further violence against worshippers at the Western Wall egalitarian prayer plaza.

The resolution comes in response to an incident several weeks ago in which families affiliated with the Conservative movement were attacked by dozens of ultra-Orthodox boys. The families had been celebrating bar- and bat-mitzvah ceremonies for their children at the area of the Western Wall designated for non-Orthodox worshippers.

The assailants tore up the participant's prayer books, blew whistles to drown out their prayers, and denounced them as “Nazis” and “Christians.” One ultra-Orthodox boy was filmed blowing his nose on the torn siddur pages. One of the families had come from the United States.

The resolution further demanded that the relevant government ministries and institutions in Israel take responsibility to ensure the safety and security of worshippers at the egalitarian prayer area.

In the resolution, passed during the closing session of the plenary, the board of governors condemned this “despicable disturbances of prayers and smachot [special occasions]” and expressed its “profound distress at these repeated instances of baseless hatred.”

The Jewish Agency, the resolution said, must work to make the Israeli public aware of “this grave situation and its impact on the global Jewish people and the relationship between Israel and Jews around the world.”

Similar calls demanding the Israeli government take action were made last week in letters sent to Prime Minister Yair Lapid by leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America, the World Zionist Organization, Keren Hayesod (the fundraising arm of the state of Israel outside the United States) and the Conservative and Reform movements.

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