Israel’s Sefardi haredi Shas Party-controlled Ministry of Religious Services will not give any funding or support for the new proposed egalitarian prayer area to be located south the traditional Kotel (Western Wall) near Robinson’s Arch no matter what the government decides about the egalitarian prayer area’s future.
Haredim Block Government Funding For Egalitarian Prayer Area Near Western Wall
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israel’s Sefardi haredi Shas Party-controlled Ministry of Religious Services will not give any funding or support for the new proposed egalitarian prayer area to be located south the traditional Kotel (Western Wall) near Robinson’s Arch no matter what the government decides about the egalitarian prayer area’s future, Ha’aretz reported.
Sources in the Ministry of Religious Services told Ha’aretz the reason for its refusal to fund the egalitarian prayer space is that it only funds authentic Judaism and Jewish religious services. But non-Orthodox community rabbis and the egalitarian prayer area cannot be considered to be religious. Therefore, the ministry sources said, it would be illogical for the Ministry of Religious Services to fund them.
According to Ha’aretz, the 35 million shekel ($8.8 million) cost for erecting the new egalitarian prayer space will be paid by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Diaspora Affairs, Tourism and Finance ministries.
But Rabbi Moshe Gafni, who co-heads the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party and who is the head of the Knesset Finance Committee, will reportedly block all government funding for egalitarian prayer area, and government sources allegedly suggested other sources of funding that would essentially boil down to the non-Orthodox Jewish movements paying for the entire construction and upkeep of the new egalitarian prayer area themselves, even though actual control of the prayer area would still rest with the government.
The non-Orthodox movements and Women of the Wall (WoW) wanted the new prayer area to be made contiguous with the Kotel proper by removing the current Mughrabi Bridge and believed a plan drawn up almost three years ago by Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky that would have seen that take place. But as FailedMessiah.com correctly reported at that time – long before any other media – security and diplomatic concerns along with the objection of the Muslim Waqf which controls the Temple Mount would never allow that plan to be brought to fruition. But it was just months ago that sources in WoW told Israeli media the Sharansky plan was (apparently) admittedly dead in the water due to those exact security and diplomatic concerns. It is very doubtful Sharansky or the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ever believed the plan would come to fruition or if they even wanted it to do so.
Netanyahu’s cabinet is set to vote on the stripped down, non-contiguous egalitarian prayer area on Sunday.
If approved, WoW will be granted limited rights to pray in the new egalitarian prayer area each rosh hodesh (new Hebrew month) and on the Fast of Esther as an all-women’s prayer group, likely separated from the rest of egalitarian prayer area by a mechitza.
Worshippers at the new egalitarian prayer area will not be able to see the Kotel proper and will not have a view of the Temple Mount area in which the ancient Jewish temples stood. Instead, they will enter the main Kotel area through the same entrances Orthodox worshippers do and will them walk the considerable distance away from the Kotel proper to their new and almost completely isolated egalitarian prayer space.
Meanwhile, the main Kotel prayer area will allegedly be officially given over to complete haredi control.