Gone from WoW’s list of demands is specific language calling for the removal of the Mughrabi Bridge and specific language calling for WoW to have any specific number of representatives on the committee administering the new egalitarian prayer area. Also gone is the demand that Anat Hoffman be one of those women.
According to Ha’aretz, the following list of the demands presented by Women of the Wall’s chairwoman Anat Hoffman to the government’s Mandelblit committee earlier today. Wow says these demands must be met or WoW will continue to pray in the women's section of the main Kotel (Western Wall).
Gone from WoW’s list of demands is specific language calling for the removal of the Mughrabi Bridge and specific language calling for WoW to have any specific number of representatives on the committee administering the new egalitarian prayer area.
Also gone is the demand that Anat Hoffman be one of those women.
Among new demands added appears to be the demand that the government hold official ceremonies at the new egalitarian space – even though the space has no special history of holiness or as a national shrine, while the actual Kotel proper does.
•…Women of the Wall demand that control over the upper plaza of the Kotel (the area just above the segregated prayer spaces) be wrested from the hands of the Western Wall rabbi and be transferred to a new authority that will also administer the egalitarian space. This would restrict the authority of the Kotel rabbi to the men’s and women’s sections only.
• The new egalitarian space will need to accommodate at least 500 women and provide for direct physical contact with the Western Wall. It should be at the same level as the existing women’s prayer section and a natural extension of it.
• The new space should be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Entrance should be free of charge without the need to book the area in advance.
• The new space will be renamed to include the word “Kotel” in it. Instead of being called “Ezrat Yisrael,” it will be called “the Kotel – Ezrat Yisrael.”
• Half of the members of the authority administering the new space will be women, including members of Women of the Wall.
• The authority administering the new space will receive at least the same level of government funding as the Orthodox-run Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which today administers the entire area of the Kotel.
• The government will take active measures to refer visitors from abroad, school children, soldiers and visiting dignitaries to the new space. It will also hold official ceremonies there.
• Women of the Wall will participate in designing the new space to ensure that those women who wish to prayer together, and not as part of a mixed service, have the means to do so, and that individuals with disabilities are provided with convenient access to the area.
• A sign will be displayed at the Western Wall commemorating its conquest by Israeli army paratroopers in 1967.
• The authorities administering the different prayer spaces at the Western Wall will hold joint meetings six times a year.
On top of all this, WoW – which previously made clear that it would continue to pray at the Kotel proper until the new egalitarian prayer area is completed and its demands have been met – is insisting that it be allowed to read from a Torah scroll at the Kotel proper Monday, November 4 – its 25 anniversary.
The Jerusalem District Court previously ruled that WoW can read from the Torah at the Kotel proper but the site's haredi rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowich, in comjunction with Israel Police have illegally prevented that from happening.
At least 21 WoW members, many of them members of longstanding – including WoW's founder – have split with Anat Hoffman over her decision to accept a government compromise that essentially leaves the Kotel proper in exclusively haredi hands and banishes WoW to the new egalitarian section at Robinson's Arch.
Hoffman has taken to using dismissive and even rude language to describe these WoW dissidents. She also sparked outrage last week by comparing herself to Rosa Parks, essentially implying that Parks would have been happy with separate but equal treatment on buses.