The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities jointly condemn Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to cancel an agreement that would have allowed for mixed and egalitarian prayer services at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
This agreement, carefully negotiated by representatives of several of the major streams of American and Diaspora Jewry, would have settled a longstanding dispute about access to one of Judaism’s most sacred sites. While the Reconstructionist movement was not an official party to the agreement, we have been supportive of the efforts of Conservative and Reform Jewish leaders to find a compromise and are grateful for their tireless work.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reversal on this issue, followed by the Knesset’s passage of a bill placing authority for some conversions to Judaism in the hands of the Israeli Orthodox rabbinate, signals a serious setback in Diaspora-Israeli relations and a move toward a more fundamentalist and anti-democratic approach to governance on the part of Israel’s leadership. As a movement committed to the ideals of Jewish peoplehood and the values of democracy and inclusion, we are deeply saddened and disappointed in this turn of events. We continue to call on Israel’s government to look toward its own founding Declaration of Statehood that envisions a country “based on freedom, justice and peace as envisioned by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.”