November 17, 2017 — New York, NY
We are appalled by what occurred yesterday at the Western Wall in Jerusalem involving a group of about 150 Reform Jews from the United States and Israel.
Why was their right to go to this holy site, so sacred to the entire Jewish people, and to conduct their worship service, disrupted?
Why was this towering symbol of Jewish unity and destiny undermined by those who would confront and divide fellow Jews?
Is this not a desecration of God’s name?
How can one group of Jews arrogate to themselves the right to determine what is “appropriate” and “inappropriate” religious practice, when we have always been a pluralistic people with a multitude of Jewish traditions, united by our love of Israel and Torah? And furthermore, why did security guards resort to violence against members of the group?
We have long believed that Israel and the Jewish people are best served by ensuring that the Jewish state and its sacred sites are not only open, but welcoming to all Jews.
In that spirit, let’s be clear, the Western Wall belongs to the entire Jewish people, not just to a single sector of it.
We have argued that Judaism in Israel is strengthened by the flowering of the various Jewish denominations, as is the case in the United States, where, laudably, a spirit of mutual respect among Jewish streams is quite widespread.
And we have asserted that any sense of religious hierarchy — or attempt at exclusion — among Jews in Israel can have profound consequences for relations between Israel and world Jewry, jeopardizing Israel’s standing and the vitality of future relations between Israel and the diaspora.
That is why AJC sponsored the creation of the Jewish Religious Equality Coalition, an organization composed of a range of groups, from Modern Orthodox to Reform, in Israel and the U.S.
We stand with our friends in the Reform movement who were so shamefully treated yesterday in seeking to demonstrate their love of Israel, their unbending commitment to Judaism, and their quest for fair and equal treatment.