By TAMARA ZIEVE \11/14/2016
Leaders of the North American Jewish community on Monday agreed to pen a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue of the unimplemented government decision to create an egalitarian prayer space at the southern end of the Western Wall.
The Jewish Federations of North America board of trustees voted in favor of the decision at the annual JFNA General Assembly, in an effort to underscore the urgency it feels about the implementation of the government resolution on the Kotel. The resolution for the creation of a pluralist prayer section at the Western Wall was approved by the cabinet in January, but has been frozen due to fierce opposition by the ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties.
The issue has been a major source of disappointment and frustration for US Jewry, much of which wishes to see a more pluralist approach accepted in Israel.
The letter begins with an affirmation of the Federations’ “unwavering love for the State of Israel,” as well as their appreciation for Netanyahu’s efforts to advance the establishment of an egalitarian prayer space and to make room for a diversity of Jewish religious practice and expression.
“We are committed to Israel’s strength and security as we are to her economic and social prosperity,” the letter continues. “We are sure you can understand the concerns we hear from many in our communities who struggle to understand why the implementation of the historic government resolution to create a space at the Kotel where all Jews are free to worship appears stalled.”
Citing Netanyhu’s often-repeated statement that there is “one Wall for one People,” a declaration he made at last year’s General Assembly, the Federations noted that their communities hold dearly to that statement and expect to see it realized. “On behalf of the Federation movement we represent, we thank you for your leadership on this matter and look forward to your ongoing efforts to make clear to millions of Jews in Israel and around the world that, in spite of our differences, we are one People,” the letter concludes.
In recent weeks Netanyahu has urged Diaspora Jews to be patient on the issue, requesting that they refrain from public discussion on the matter and allow the government to work on it quietly.