Kotel Update: Meeting with PM Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky

Posted on: Monday September 22, 2014

On Friday, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky (Chair of the Jewish Agency) invited us to Israel for meetings Sunday evening and Monday (today) with the goal of substantially moving the process toward achieving the concept of "One People; One Kotel" forward.  

We were joined by our colleagues and friends Rabbi Rick Jacobs (President and CEO of the Union for Reform Judaism), Anat Hoffman (leader of Women of the Wall), Jerry Silverman (CEO the Jewish Federations of North America), Yizhar Hess (Executive Director Masorti Israel), and Rabbi Gilad Kariv (Executive Director the Union for Progressive Judaism in Israel).

On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, as Jews around the world turn their hearts and minds toward their deepest prayers and highest aspirations, we write to you concerning our collective aspiration for a pluralistic and egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel.  We are pleased to share with you that although some challenges remain to be resolved, we have made substantial progress and look forward to the point at which there will be news to share.

For the last seventeen months we have worked closely together with Avichai Mandelblit, Cabinet Secretary of the Prime Minister's Office, to address many of the techinical and regulatory issues needed to create an appropriately respectful and inviting worship space for egalitarian prayer.  We had a brief hiatus during the last several months as Israel was focused on Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.  This is why we were gratified that the Prime Minister took such an active and personal interest in the resolution of this critical challenge facing the Jewish people.

Our discussions today were substantive, energtic and constructive.  We remain in close contact with our partners and will continue to work diligently toward a comprehensive solution over the coming months.

At this moment, as we begin the New Year, we do so with great confidence in the strength and unity of the Jewish people and our ability to come together in times of struggle, and at all times, to further the values of our people

Shanah tovah,


Rabbi Steven Wernick                        Rabbi Julie Schonfeld