ARZA condemns the "Other Kotel Bill"
ARZA vigorously opposes the “other Kotel bill”, which would ban Jewish expression as embraced by the majority of North America’s Jews at Judaism’s holiest site.
On Sunday, December 18, Knesset lawmakers endorsed legislation that would outlaw practices deemed “offensive” throughout the entire area around the Western Wall. Under the proposed bill, violators would be punished by six months in jail or a 10,000 shekel ($2,600) fine.
The bill would forbid women from wearing a Tallit or Tefillin, sounding a shofar, or carrying or reading from a Torah scroll. Further, it would also prohibit mixed-gender prayer services, wearing clothing that is deemed “inappropriate for the holiness of the site,” and playing musical instruments and singing with permission of the authorities.
The bill defines the “Western Wall” to include the area known as “Robinson’s Arch,” where the establishment of a permanent egalitarian prayer section was negotiated and approved by the Prime Minister’s cabinet in January 2016.
ARZA opposes this bill and calls for its immediate and decisive rejection by the Knesset. This bill is a mean-spirited rejection of Reform and Conservative Judaism and our efforts to make the Western Wall accessible and open to all Jews and all expressions of Jewish worship. As Natan Sharansky, Jewish Agency Chair, has said, “This bill makes a mockery of all the efforts made by recent governments to ensure that the Western Wall is a place that unites, rather than divides, the Jewish People. This bill will divide the Jewish people, and we call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to prioritize the freedom of all Jews to worship at our holiest site over the narrow-minded bigotry of extremists.
ARZA calls upon our supporters to support IRAC’s letter writing campaign and to share their thoughts and outrage with us at #RealOffense.
We cannot and will not stand by and let this bill pass.