A senior Religious Zionist rabbi has called on the authorities in charge of the Western Wall Plaza to accommodate Reform and Conservative prayer groups at a separate section of the wall designated for egalitarian prayer.
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, chief rabbi of the Samaria town of Har Bracha and dean of the local yeshiva, penned a piece on ArutzSheva’s Hebrew website Thursday arguing that non-traditional prayer groups should be given accommodation at the Western Wall.
The rabbi emphasized that the prayers should be permitted only in the ‘Ezrat Yisrael’ section of the Western Wall Plaza – an area on the southern end of the plaza, separate from the main prayer areas of the plaza.
“Because there are many Jews who identify with the Conservative and Reform movements, and have based on the values which they set for their mixed prayers involving both women and men in a form which violates Jewish law and tradition, and they wish to pray by the Western Wall, it is correct to set aside the ‘Ezrat Yisrael’ area for them to hold their prayer services in a respectable manner,” Rabbi Melamed wrote.
“If more people come to pray adhering to their rules, the area allotted to them in the Ezrat Yisrael space should be increased as needed.”
“Orthodox and haredi people who adhere to Jewish law and tradition need not be bothered by these groups which come to the Western Wall. Rather, they should be happy that more of their Jewish brothers and sisters are connecting to the site of the Temple, and more of them want to pray to their Father in Heaven.”
Rabbi Melamed also said the administrators of the Western Wall should see to the needs of Reform and Conservative worshippers, including providing them with Torah scrolls.
"They need a Torah scroll [the Western Wall's rabbi] should take care of it."
The article was penned in response to a confrontation in the Western Wall Plaza during the Tisha B’Av fast this week, during which non-Orthodox and Orthodox worshippers clashed over the mixed prayers at the site.