The Women of the Wall organization, the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel and North America as well as political leaders in Israel and the Diaspora hailed the agreement approved on Sunday to formally designate a prayer area for non-Orthodox prayer at the Western Wall.
The Orthodox political establishment, in particular the haredi leadership, was, however, greatly angered by the recognition of the rights of non-Orthodox Jews inherent in the change, although they realized they were essentially powerless to avert it.
The proponents of the new arrangement alighted on a central theme, that the recognition of their rights would lead the way for them to demonstrate to Israelis en masse a different type of Judaism than they have been exposed to in the past.
“This is a historic day for Women of the Wall and women in Israel in general and anyone who thinks there is more than one way to be Jewish in Israel,” said Anat Hoffman, the chairwoman of the Women of the Wall and one of its most vocal and prominent leaders over the last 27 years of its fight for prayer rights.
“We are happy that the government of Israel took this first step to establish an egalitarian, pluralist and tolerant section to which all will be welcome. We will promise that it will welcome everyone with open arms and that no one will be harassed as occurs in the current plaza.”
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the head of the Reform Movement in Israel, described the agreement as a compromise but nevertheless a historic moment in which the prayer services and customs of the non-Orthodox denominations will for the first time receive official status and standing in Israeli law.