RABBIS FOR WOMEN OF THE WALL ISSUE STATEMENT SUPPORTING NETANYAHU, SHARANKSY AND JERUSALEM DISTRICT COURT DECISION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 8, 2013
Rabbi Pamela Frydman 415-261-3404 (from outside U.S. 001-415-261-3404), firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbis for Women of the Wall has expanded its core to over eighty rabbis and a growing group of cantors from across the streams of the Jewish people. These leaders have issued a statement calling on the Israeli government to adhere to the April 24, 2013 Jerusalem District Court ruling, by permitting and protecting Women of the Wall as they pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem while wearing tallitot and reading from a Torah scroll. The statement goes on to praise the efforts of Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Prime Minister Netanyahu for appointing Sharansky to come up with an inclusive plan for the Kotel area. The statement concludes with points that signatories hope will be taken into consideration as the Sharansky Plan is implemented.
Every Jew is invited to lend his or her name to the statement at http://www.rabbisupportpluralism.org/ which is being emailed to the government officials named in it and to other Members of Knesset.
Among Rabbis for WOW leaders are Rabbis Susan Silverman, Robyn Fryer Bodzin, Debra Cantor and Valerie Stessin, who have experienced being arrested and detained with Women of the Wall for wearing a prayer shawl at the Western Wall. Also included are Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism and Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, founder of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL). Honorary Co-Chairs and Vice Chairs include Richard Skolnik, International President of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Ruth Messinger, Elana Sztokman and Hallel Abramowitz-Silverman, an Israeli of American descent who was arrested for wearing a prayer shawl at the Kotel. Hallel and her mother, Rabbi Susan Silverman, are related to comedienne Sarah Silverman.
Rabbis for Women of the Wall was founded on October 18, 2010 by twenty-eight rabbis issuing a joint statement. Within two weeks, the 2010 statement garnered the support of 400 rabbis and 500 others and gained coverage in the Jerusalem Post. <http://tinyurl.com/bpfmp8l> By January 2011, Rabbis for WOW encompassed over 700 rabbis, 80 cantors, 80 organization heads and 1200 others, and held meetings with Israeli government officials. <http://tinyurl.com/cs2eka9>
On the eve of the May 2013 launch, Rabbi David Kalb, International Co-Chair of Rabbis for Women of the Wall stated: "Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Sobel's decision reflects a real change for the betterment of Israel and world Jewry and represents the beginning of true respect for different points of view in Israel with regard to Judaism. This approach to diversity has the potential to bring Klal Yisrael (the entire Jewish people) together to create a greater commitment for every Jew to Torat Yisrael (the Torah of Israel), Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel) and Am Yisrael (the Jewish people).
International Co-Chair Rabbi Pamela Frydman added: "In the Jewish state, there is no separation between synagogue and state. A divorcing couple may choose between religious court and civil court to adjudicate matters of property, support and custody. We firmly believe that within this model, minhag ha-makom (the custom of the place) includes the determinations of the civil court, as well as the religious court and the religious functionary (mara d'atra) in defining and implementing minhagei ha-makom in congregations, communities, and districts. We firmly believe that Judge Sobel's ruling will continue to clear the way for women to be allowed to pray with tallit and Torah reading at the Kotel, regardless of whether it is paired with the 2003 Supreme Court ruling or the 1981 amendments to the Holy Sites Law or any law relating to holy sites and minhagei ha-makom (customs of the place) at the Western Wall."
Rabbi Kalb concludes: "We are more committed than ever in our support of Women of the Wall and religious freedom in Israel. May pluralism in the cause of Jewish unity be victorious in our time."