Central Conference of American Rabbis Celebrates Sacred Action at the Western Wall

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Central Conference of American Rabbis commends Reform and Conservative Movement leaders — including CCAR members Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism and Rabbi Dan Freelander, President of the World Union of Progressive Judaism; CCAR Board representative Rabbi Don Goor; Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Executive Director of IMPJ; Israel Religious Action Center and Women of the Wall leaders Anat Hoffman and Rabbi Noa Sattah; Rabbi Josh Weinberg, President of ARZA; Rabbi John Rosove, Chair of ARZA; and Rabbi Steven Wernick, Chief Executive of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; among others — who bravely bore Torah scrolls to the women's section of the Western Wall of Jerusalem's Temple Mount this morning. The sacred action of these leaders exemplifies the great prophetic tradition of Judaism. They engaged in peaceful civil disobedience to protest the Netanyahu government's unconscionable delay in taking even preliminary steps to implement a compromise plan. The plan, adopted by the Israeli cabinet and announced to great fanfare in February, was to set aside the southern section of the Western Wall for mixed worship under pluralistic auspices. We commend, too, all who courageously escorted the Torah scrolls and their bearers, noting that among them were numerous additional current and future CCAR members — including participants in Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's Year-in-Israel program for first year students in its rabbinical, cantorial, and education programs.

Reform rabbis remain outraged that bringing a Torah into the women's section of the Western Wall is prohibited, but we are grateful that a police permit was issued to legalize today's action. Reform rabbis are outraged that ultra-Orthodox opponents of today's action assaulted Women of the Wall participants and their supporters today. Reform rabbis are outraged that Prime Minister Netanyahu continues not to live by his word. We demand that he immediately take concrete steps toward implementation of the Mandelbrit Plan for the establishment of an egalitarian section at the Western Wall of Jerusalem's Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site, where all Jews must be permitted to worship in keeping with their equally legitimate customs.

Each time we take the Torah from the Holy Ark, we proclaim: gratefully declaring that Torah emanates from Zion. Today, we are grateful to our leaders and their supporters who brought Torah to Zion, enhancing access to our sacred scrolls for all men and women eager to embrace Torah. We demand that the Israeli government take its promised next step to ensure lasting equal access to Torah and the Western Wall.

Rabbi Denise L. Eger                         Rabbi Steven A. Fox
President                                          Chief Executive

      Central Conference of American Rabbis