Mixed-Gender Prayer Site at Western Wall

The Israeli government approved the creation of a mixed-gender plaza at Jerusalem’s Western Wall to accommodate Jews who contest Orthodox curbs on worship by women there.

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The wall is revered as a vestige of Judaism’s two ancient temples and access to it is segregated by gender. Most religious rites take place in the men’s section in accordance with centuries-old Orthodox standards that hold sway in Israel.

The new area will be located at a separate expanse of the wall that, when seen from the plaza looking toward the wall, stands to the right of the current Orthodox-administered compound where men and women will still worship separately.

More liberal streams of Judaism, which outside of Israel have larger followings than Orthodoxy, chafe at the restriction. It is regularly challenged by the activist group “Women of the Wall”, sometimes setting off scuffles and police intervention.

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The Reform and Conservative Movements, Women of the Wall, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) have teamed up for a joint and coordinated agreement with the Israeli government regarding matters of religion and state in Israel. Read the statement from Arza

In light of this decision, the government will begin construction of an egalitarian prayer space, the entrance to which will be from the main entry point of the Kotel. Read the statement from the Reform Judaism