Western Wall: Jewish Agency takes action

June 28, 2017 by J-Wire
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Following The Jewish Agency for Israel Board of Governors’ meetings in Jerusalem yesterday Chairman of the Executive Natan Sharansky briefed nearly 200 Jewish Agency shlichim(emissaries) posted around the world updating them on the recent developments  on the Government of Israel’s suspension of the Western Wall agreement and its approval of the conversion bill.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky briefs Jewish Agency emissaries around the world following Sunday’s decisions by the Government of Israel.   Photo credit: The Jewish Agency for Israel.

Also discussed were the reasons behind the cancellation of last night’s scheduled gala dinner with the Prime Minister and the significance and ramifications of the government’s decisions, as well as responses by The Jewish Agency and Jewish communities.

Sharansky instructed the shlichim to take immediate action in two primary areas:

  1. To oppose calls for division, disconnection from Israel, and an end to support for the Jewish state; to clarify that Jewish communities have no future without a connection to Israel; and to emphasize that the right course of action is to listen to all voices in order to embrace the diversity of views and those who espouse them; and


  1. To listen to expressions of anger and criticism that are being heard in many Jewish communities and bring them to the attention of public figures and politicians in Israel


Dr Danny Lamm said The Zionist Federation of Australia strongly endorses the resolution which was unanimously supported by the Jewish Agency for Israel yesterday regarding the Knesset decisions on the issues of conversion and on egalitarian prayer spaces at the Kotel.
He said: “I am with a delegation from the board of governors at Knesset, meeting with a broad coalition of Knesset members across the board, making representations to the government to review and rescind the decisions.
The conversion decision will potentially have disastrous impact on hundreds of thousands of olim who have converted through authorities other than the Haredi Chief Rabbinate. The decision to freeze implementation of the creation of an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel has alienated many diaspora and Israeli Jews, who have been eagerly anticipating its creation over the past few years –  it is a decision which has the potential to create divisions rather than the unity which is the cornerstone of the Jewish Agency’s mission.” 
The resolution passed by the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency declared:

Whereas the proposed conversion bill that would cement the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly on conversion has the devastating potential to permanently exclude hundreds of thousands of Israelis from being a part of the Jewish people; and

Whereas we deplore yesterday’s decision by Government of Israel which contradicts the agreement reached with the Jewish Agency and other parties to establish the Kotel as a unifying symbol for Jews around the world, as stated: ‘ONE WALL FOR ONE PEOPLE’; and

Whereas the Government of Israel’s decisions have a deep potential to divide the Jewish people and to undermine the Zionist vision and dream of Herzl, Ben-Gurion, and Jabotinsky to establish Israel as a national home for the entire Jewish people; and

Whereas we declare that we cannot and must not allow this to happen and we are committed to mobilizing our constituencies for their continued support of the people and state of Israel

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder has expressed grave concern over the divisiveness within Jewish communities surrounding the Western Wall controversy.

“The Western Wall is an integral part of Jewish history and holds deep significance for all of us, regardless of religious practice or orientation.

“I am deeply perturbed by the divisiveness that has arisen in recent days over the controversy surrounding this sacred site.

“As the president of the World Jewish Congress, I have received messages from leaders of Jewish communities around the world expressing deep concern about the current situation.

“For many of these communities, praying at the Western Wall is a rite of passage, and they are understandably anxious that they will not be welcome there.

“I fervently hope that a resolution can be found in the interest of Jewish unity and in a spirit of mutual understanding.”

JNS.org reports that Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett has said that Israel’s decisions to freeze the construction of an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall and to bolster strict Jewish conversion laws are undermining relations between Israel and diaspora Jews.

“Over the past 24 hours we have held a marathon of meetings with the heads of U.S. Jewish communities currently in Israel, and the picture is troubling,” Bennett said. “The representatives of U.S. Jewry feel they were slapped in the face by the Israeli government and that they are apparently no longer welcome here. Of course this isn’t true.”

Bennet admitted that “mistakes were made” by the Israeli government, but said the controversy has largely resulted from a “campaign of misinformation claiming the [Western Wall] is being closed to diaspora Jews and that the status of conversions is being changed. This is false.”

The minister affirmed Israel’s efforts to “reach an understanding” with diaspora Jews regarding these issues.

Naftali Bennett explains the Western Wall problem


2 Responses to “Western Wall: Jewish Agency takes action”
  1. Debbie Scholem says:

    Last year, when praying on the women’s side at the Kottel I noticed that their was not one prayer book on the wooden trolley to use in English. Following the recent Israeli government’decision to break its promise to Progressive Jews you just get the feeling that they don’t give a damn about the diaspora. I feel really sad and disappointed.

  2. Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

    I like many have had the opportunity and privilege to daven at the Kosel on numerous ocassions,
    One of the things which impressed me the most was the broad cross section of Jews praying together.
    The Kosel unifies the community like no synagogue in Jerusalem London Sydney Johannesburg etc etc.
    Let that unity continue until our Holy Beis HaMikdosh is rebuilt when the entire Jewish Nation will go up on the Har HaBayis.

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