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March 01, 2007 - Image 19

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2007-03-01

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i'riendsnip Circle Benefit



of the Fenkel Volunteer Club

A night you won't believe
A performance you'll never forget




Conservative Rabbi Claudia Kreiman
prays at Robinson's Arch at the edge of
the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Under new deal, Conservative Jews
can pray for free at edge of Western Wall.

Dina Kraft
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Tel Aviv


very year, hundreds of Jews —
men and women together —
and many of them from abroad,
gather to pray at the southernmost edge
of the Western Wall at an archaeological
site called Robinson's Arch.
Until an agreement was reached
between Israel's Conservative movement
and the Israeli government on Feb. 11,
those worshipers often were charged a
fee to pray.
On the eve of a lawsuit by the move-
ment against the government and other
organizations involved in the Western
Wall area, the government came up with
a compromise plan in which worshipers
would be able to hold free services until
10:30 in the morning on weekdays, and
on Friday evenings and holidays.
A situation "was created where some-
one who wanted to pray at the Western
Wall as an Orthodox Jew could pray as
frequently as they wanted and with no
entry fee, and we were in a situation
where if someone wanted a mixed min-
yan, they would have to pay to pray," said

Rabbi Andy Sacks, director of the rab-
binical assembly in Israel for the Masorti
movement, the name of the Conservative
stream in Israel.
Rabbi Sacks welcomed the compro-
mise solution.
"Ultimately what is important here is
the recognition on the part of the govern-
ment that those whose praying is not in
keeping with Orthodox customs but their
own customs have to be accommodated,
and that the government
must provide for their
needs as well:' he said.
The decision to have
a legally sanctioned area
for Jews who wanted to
pray in mixed minyans, or
quorums, at the Western
Wall followed violent attacks on mixed
groups praying with Torah scrolls in 1998
and 1999.
The worshipers were pelted with
stones and reportedly even feces-filled
diapers by fervently Orthodox worshipers
who were enraged at the sight of women
and men praying together at the rear of
the Western Wall plaza.
At that time, a deal was made that
worshipers seeking to pray in egalitar-
ian services would be allowed to do so at

Robinson's Arch, an archaeological site
at the far southern edge of the Western
About two years ago, the archaeo-
logical park that oversees the site began
charging worshipers who came to pray
after 8 a.m., claiming the groups were
bothersome to tourists, according to
The arch itself was part of an entrance-
way that once led to the Second Temple.

Those whose praying is not in
keeping with Orthodox customs
have been accommodated.

Thursday, March 22,

The sher Theatre


It traditionally has less emotional sig-
nificance to the Jewish people than the
Western Wall plaza area itself because
much of it had been underground until
excavations in the 1880s.
About 200 groups a year, many of
them affiliated with the Conservative
movement abroad, pray at the site and
are deeply moved by the setting, which
includes original boulders that tumbled
off the temple during its destruction in
70 C.E. L

\Ai Jrancl Bouio\

Derrolt. Michigan

Tickets are avaihble for

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March 1 . 2007


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