Bennett holds first official meeting with Progressive Jewish leaders in six years

March 1, 2022 by Gil Tanenbaum - TPS
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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with leaders of the Conservative and Reform Jewish organizations, from both Israel and abroad, at his office in Jerusalem Monday.

“Women of the Wall” celebrating new month at Western Wall, Feb.27, 2017. Photo by Adi Gefen/TPS

This was the first time in six years that an Israeli prime minister held an official meeting with Reform and Conservative leaders.

The attendees said that during the meeting, which lasted for about an hour and a half, the participants discussed such issues as creating a new area at the Kotel – the Western Wall – in Jerusalem for people from their groups to hold their own prayer services.

Conservative and Reform both allow men and women to pray together without separation as the orthodox do, and they also allow women to lead the services and read from the Tora. The orthodox prohibit this in their services and so they will not allow such prayers at the Kotel.

The Conservative and Reform leaders said that Bennett recognized that they have a right to hold their own services at the Kotel.

In a Tweet, the Reform said that the meeting was, “historic in its recognition of liberal Jewish movements in Israel and the Diaspora.”

In the past, Naftali Bennett did express his support for a compromise plan that would allow for a separate area near the Kotel Plaza where mixed prayer services would be allowed. But no such plan has as of yet been approved or implemented.

Present at the meeting was MK Alon Tal from Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party, which is part of the governing coalition in the Knesset. Tal, who is originally from North Carolina and changed his name from Albert Rosenthal when he moved to Israel, is affiliated with the Conservative Jewish Movement, known as Masorti in Israel.

“After 6 years in which the Israeli prime minister refused to meet with the leaders of the pluralistic currents, which represent the majority of world Jewry, a meeting was held this morning. A refreshing change,” said Tal.”

Tal added that they told the Prime Minister that they feel like “type B Jews” in Israel and pledged to work together to “change the discourse, to give a place of respect and equality to all currents, and to stop violence and extremism.”

Gilad Kariv, a member of the Knesset from the coalition Labor Party, was also at the meeting. He is a native-born Israeli who affiliates with the Reform Jewish movement in the country. Kariv tweeted, “After 6 years of disengagement, the Prime Minister’s meeting with the leaders of the liberal currents in Israel and the Diaspora – in a real line. Most of the Israeli public believes that compromises can be reached on complex issues, and the current government must bring extremists back Equality at the Western Wall.”

On Sunday a group of Conservative leaders in Israel met with President Isaac Herzog. After the meeting, they said that the President expressed his willingness to assist in advancing various issues related to the Conservative movement, including the “need to advance the layout of the Western Wall” to allow for mixed services.


One Response to “Bennett holds first official meeting with Progressive Jewish leaders in six years”
  1. Rabbi Chaim Ingram OAM says:

    Point of correction: “Pluralistic currents” do not represent “the majority of world Jewry”

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