The Kotel: Is The Jewish Agency Part of the Problem?

The modern State of Israel invests a great deal of effort in telling diaspora Jews it represents them. It has a diaspora minister and occasionally gets offended at antisemitic incidents around the world.

But Israel’s understanding of the term “representing” is very different from that of most diaspora Jews. In America, our “representatives” reflect our values, advance our needs and ask us for permission to represent them. Using that sense of the term, it is becoming exceedingly hard to argue that the government of Israel does much in the way of “representing” diaspora Jews.

Nowhere is this more clear than with The Jewish Agency’s role in negotiating a new compromise over access to the nucleus of Jewish sanctity and yearning, the Kotel.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky to negotiate a new compromise in the wake of the latest Women of the Wall protests, neither Netanyahu nor Sharansky were representing the diaspora. Netanyahu wasn’t looking for more lenient access or more respect for Jewish diversity, but to silence the debate until the elections were over. It was the final weeks of a hard-fought election, and the prime minister was growing worried about tens of thousands of voters who were switching away from the Likud toward the religiously Orthodox Jewish Home party. He didn’t want religiously conservative Likud voters to find another excuse to turn rightward. He didn’t want a fight over the Kotel.

Several sources have confirmed to eJewishPhilanthropy that Netanyahu specifically asked Sharansky for quiet, not compromise. And that The Jewish Agency has since asked journalists to refrain from raising the subject in order not to harm ongoing “discussions.”

Indeed, the agency is so committed to this silence that it canceled the planned Global Forum scheduled at this week’s Board of Governors meeting. The Forum, run in the past by the organization’s education arm MAKOM, would have raised the issues of religious pluralism in the Jewish state.

Natan Sharansky, a nice man, self-effacing and patient, was a good choice for Jewish Agency chairman. But he serves in that role as Netanyahu’s representative, not the Diaspora’s.

It is high time diaspora Jews ask themselves whether they are, in fact, represented in the Israeli government, whether anyone expresses our values or demands recognition for our needs in a systematic way. And it is time to stop allowing the pretense of representation to disguise the fact that it is sorely lacking.

The women who are getting arrested at the Kotel on a monthly basis for wearing tallitot deserve representatives who will point out that millions of Jews pray as they do, that egalitarian services are not abominations and deserve the dignity of being held at the Kotel, that the most sacred spot on the Jewish map cannot be administered by a narrowly-conceived “synagogue” or unrepresentative rabbi.

American Jews do not want a new compromise that will relegate them to the back of the bus or the fringes of the holy mountain. American Jews want the struggle over a free and open Kotel to be the crucible that reignites affiliation and love for Israel, rather than the grinding sore that pushes Jews away.

It’s time American Jews had representatives who want the same thing.

This article reflects the personal views of Dan Brown, the founder of, and should not be regarded as a statement of the views of eJewish Philanthropy, its volunteers, advisors or funders.

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  1. says

    One week ago today at 8:30 AM Israel time I walked quickly back to my hotel. I took off my tallit and tefillin as I exited the Muslim quarter of the Old City. I had to be back at my hotel to meet my group for the 5 minute walk to the Sochnut offices (Jewish Agency for Israel). Ironically, my group of 32 North American rabbis would be meeting with Natan Sharansky.

    I had just left two members of my group alone with a police woman in the Western Wall tunnels because they were being detained for wearing a tallit while they prayed over an hour earlier in the Women’s Section of the Kotel.

    Throughout the hour-long meeting with Mr. Sharansky, he explained that he speaks to PM Netanyahu often about the situation with Women of the Wall (Nashot Hakotel) and that it is a very delicate and frustrating situation. That being said, he also explained that it is a holy place and the Supreme Court has made it clear that the Ultra-Orthodox are in charge there. However, mixed prayer groups have been granted the ability to pray freely at Robinson’s Arch.

    When told that wasn’t good enough by members of our group of rabbis and that it is problematic that women who have taken on the obligation to wear tallit are being detained, questioned, fingerprinted, and banned from appearing at the Kotel for a number of days after their detention, Sharansky just shrugged.

    Our group had just returned from four long days in Kiev when we met with members of the Ukraine Jewish community who, like Natan Sharansky, had been Prisoners of Zion (Soviet Refuseniks). I can’t help but wonder how Mr. Sharansky would have responded had North American Jewry just shrugged rather than fight to save Soviet Jewry some thirty years ago.

  2. Mary Ann Oppenheimer says

    Perhaps Dan Brown’s opinion “does not represent everyone at e-Jewish Philanthropy.” If so, that is sad, as he certainly represents my opinion — a loyal reader of e-Jewish Philanthropy for several years now. Thank you, once again, Mr. Brown for coherently and succinctly expressing important ideas.

  3. Uri Regev says

    A very important article by Dan Brown, that justifies serious soul searching by the members of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency convened in Jerusalem now. The bad news is that the Kotel controversy is just the tip of the iceberg, and we should not lose sight of the other conflict which N. asked S. to take on, the Who is a Jew battle. Nothing good happening there, and it seems that those who assumed that the motivating factor there has been mostly buying time and silence were right! N. and Israel never claimed to represent world Jewry, though, other than when it comes to taxation… and it’s time that rather than cancel discussions on controversial issues or stack the panel of speakers – American Jewish leadership would do well to consider that they have a lot at stake and should assume a leading role in ensuring that they be well represented and courageous in stating their expectations. The main topic that cannot be pushed under the carpet any longer is that some half to 2/3 of American Jewish “next generation” would either be treated as non-Jews by Israel or as second class Jews, with non of the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist Jews by Choice and their children [when the convert is the mother] allowed to marry in Israel. Just think how many of the families of the members of the Board of Governors this would impact -and you understand the extent of the denial that’s going on. Time to speak truth to power, it’s the democratic and the Jewish thing to do!

  4. says

    As I said when Bibi initially charged Sharansky with the task of solving the Kotel conundrum, this issue was of such burning importance that it had to be handled by someone else … and, as confirmed above by Dan Brown, when Bibi thought “handled”, what he meant was “do absolutely nothing to resolve the issue”… sigh.

  5. Davida Chazan says

    One tiny correction – the Women of the Wall aren’t staging protests. They are a prayer group and go to the Wall each month to pray – not to protest anything.

  6. Bakol Ruben Gellar says

    I am taken aback thSt this article seems to address ONLY those in the Diaspora. The situation that WoW are put in is a disgrace to me-an Israeli woman. Things have to change not to please those in the Diaspora, but because there are many of us WHO LIVE HERE who want to live in an Israel that respects all of us

  7. says

    DAN MENDELSOHN AVIV says: “this issue was of such burning importance that it had to be handled by someone else.”

    After having two meetings with Bibi’s loyal assistant Ron Dermer in the past 3 months, I can tell you that the Who Is a Jew/Women of the Wall/Religion&State issues are not in Bibi’s Top Five. And I’m okay with that. I get that there are issues more pressing on Bibi’s plate (Iran, settlement building, etc.) and he’s going to work on those top 5 before he takes on the matters of religion and state (especially when the religious parties are needed for a coalition). BUT (and this is a big but), if he charges Sharansky to solve the problem, then Sharansky should try to solve the problem… no matter how challenging it is. Trying to get everyone to stay quiet will not solve the problem anymore than getting everyone to stay quiet would have solved any other human rights violation issue in our people’s long history.

  8. says

    Who are you kidding? Orthodox Jews visit Israel with much higher frequency and a much higher percentage thereof, than the Heterodox. While there may be more Heterodox in total head count, that’s hardly relevant considering how many of them ever go to a shul, whether it’s ‘egalitarian’ or in accordance with Jewish law.

  9. says

    Dan, for the first time, I have to say I am disappointed in what you have written. I find this oped to be either uninformed or amnesic, on top or being just plain wrong.

    While I cannot say what was in the Prime Minister’s heart when he tapped Natan Sharansky to study the problem at the Kotel, I can say that the appointment did not come out of the blue. ARZA and Reform Movement leaders initiated a resolution at the last JAFI BOG meeting calling on the agency to throw its weight into getting the government to stop the shameful treatment of women wanting to pray at the Kotel with tallitot. Joined by many other advocates, an iteration of the resolution passed and Natan wrote to the Prime Minister. These very pages published their correspondence.

    It was only after this pressure that Natan was tapped to study the situation at the Kotel and charged with recommending solutions. Natan has actively been soliciting comments and there will be a town hall meeting at this very meeting giving the BOG an opportunity to be heard. Various groups, including the ARZA and the Reform Movement have been collecting petitions, comments, soliciting feedback and will be passing all of this onto Natan. In October, we thought the right approach to be heard by the government was to work through the Jewish Agency. So far at least, we have not been disappointed.

  10. says

    I haven’t really publicized this blog yet, and there’s a lot in online media from the ‘left’, but not nearly as much online from Orthodox Jews, I think for obvious reasons… … I decided to explain it from a perspective of someone who grew up non-religious and become an Orthodox Jew. Feel free to comment / criticize / argue, or let me know how it could be improved. This is how I got to these beliefs in the first place!

  11. says

    At the core of Western democratic values is the idea that we vote for those who represent us. Neither Bibi’s declarations to represent world Jewry, nor Sharansky’s assertion that the JA represents Diaspora Jews overturn this basic truth.

  12. Dan Brown says


    I am sorry but I must respectfully disagree with you. Yes, I clearly remember the October meeting, the resolution approved in committee and then the changed resolution presented to the Board for passage. I also believe there is only coincidence between those actions and the PM tapping Sharansky to look for a solution. In fact, you would need to convince me the PM was even aware of the resolution’s existence in the first place.

    None of that changes the fact that The Jewish Agency has done everything it could to lower the profile of these discussions since, including cancelling the originally announced Makom program. Yes, Sharansky has been soliciting comments and yes, there will be a town hall tomorrow morning, but I am led to understand no motion will be allowed to be brought to the floor either during the Committee meeting or during the closing Board plenary. I am also not convinced that, in the end, The Jewish Agency Executive – as a quasi-organization of the state – will be willing to seriously challenge the religious status quo that exists here in Israel.

  13. Elana Heideman says

    I am confused – Where and when has Israel claimed to “represent all of Diaspora Jewry?” While Israel may exist for the sake of all Jewry, I think it is wrong to claim that Israel, the Israeli government, Israeli society, and especially Israelis represent the identity, social norms, or conflicts of Diaspora Jewry. Indeed, how can you claim that Israel, a state which embodies the only Jewish majority in the world, SHOULD at all represent Jews living as a minority spread throughout the world, each with their own cultural, social and religious uniqueness?

    We here in Israel have enough challenges of our own as we struggle with the particular realities of living within the ongoing project of building Israel and striving toward a better society that can embrace us all. I am in wholehearted agreement with BAKOL RUBEN GELLAR who recognized that “this article seems to address ONLY those in the Diaspora. Things have to change not to please those in the Diaspora, but because there are many of us WHO LIVE HERE who want to live in an Israel that respects all of us.” I would have to add that some of us also wish for a Diaspora Jewry that respects Israel and Israelis a bit more as well. If Diaspora Jews want Israel to represent their wishes and demands, they should respect the uniqueness of what it means to live, work, raise a family, and face the security concerns of those of us who are striving to build a life here.

    With specific regard to the challenges of religious pluralism in Israel, I also wonder: there are a myriad of ways to express oneself as a Jew in the Diaspora which is considered the “beacon of pluralism.” Yet more and more Jews still turn away every year, intermarry or assimilate and every synagogue and Jewish organization is struggling to make Jewish life relevant. While I too am disturbed by the power of the Ultra-Orthodox over religious life in Israel, and I believe in a woman’s right to pray at the Kotel, can we really claim that the American model is the example which we should be following or that they are the voice that should be commanding how life in Israel should be?

  14. says

    The Jewish Agency for Israel does many things well. I have seen firsthand how they encourage aliyah and foster a love for Israel. Let’s face it, with the BDS movement as powerful as it currently is, those are very important and necessary tasks.
    While PM Netanyahu did ask Chairman Sharansky to oversee the Women of the Wall issue, Sharansky has no power over the police.
    It was a police officer who detained me on Rosh Hodesh Adar. When I told the police officer that I was missing a meeting with Chairman Sharanksy, he did not care at all.

  15. says

    Once again Dan Brown captures the spirit of the times in Jerusalem. I too was present last Monday morning, Rosh Hodesh Adar at the Kotel. In fact, I was the lead voice during Shacharit. I believed I was not DETAINED because when I was asked/told/commanded to wrap my WOW tallit like a scarf, I did. My job was to lead Shacharit and I did not want to be taken away. I chose not to dance during Hallel as I was recovering from being the Shlichah tzibur, and just danced in place during Hallel, which, by the way, was led by a sub because the appointed leader had been DETAINED.

    To respond to Dan’s point, I want to say loud and clear that there are now Members of Knesset that get this issue. MK Nachman Shai for one totally understands the needs of the Jewish People, those who celebrate and observe Judaism in more moderate, dynamic and evolving ways, joyfully raising voices together in beautiful harmony. There is nothing more thrilling than leading WOW in prayer at the Kotel. My grandfather, Ralph Leonard Willen, may his memory be a blessing, was born in the Old City in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, and died shortly before the Yom Kippur War in the secular seventies, 19 Elul, 5733 . There is no doubt in my mind that my Pop would be proud to know that I am among the Lady Liberators of HaKotel Ha’ma’arivi in these, the Sacred Seventies, in the second decade of the 21st century.

  16. Chaya Gross says

    BH WOW is exactly what it is all about. Couldn’t be a more telling name. As a Jewish woman living in Jerusalem for over 30 years I find the behavior of these women appalling! It is pure sensationalism which is why the press has to be there and a scene made each time. I in fact avoid the Kotel so as not to have to be associated with them in any way. Also their defying the high court decision is showing that obviously their “rights” are above the law of the land! These women certainly don’t represent me or any women I know in Jerusalem, they rather represent themselves.

  17. Bakol Ruben Gellar says

    I am guessing you have NEVER been at WOW. I do want to say they DO represent me. It never fails to amaze and sadden me to hear comments about them from people who have no experience of them

  18. reuvain says

    World Jewry such a strong ominous term. And off course who represents world Jewry, its the Woman of the Wall. Was there an election, where they chosen by some vote. So lets pause for a moment of honesty and get beyond the pr being pushed by the Reform and Conservative movements.

    Today the majority of Jews in the world who are members of congregations affiliate with the Orthodox. When you factor in Europe, Australia, Russia, South Africa, South America and lets not forget Israel, where some 30% are fully orthodox observant and another 30% traditional and attend Orthodox synagogues.

    In the US the Conservative is closing congregations and has lost a third of its members. The Reform is not gaining in the younger demographic as faces a looming challenges of serious drop in members. At the same time Orthodox are growing according to the most recent NY demographic survey and in suburbia more and more are voting with their feet and moving from the liberal congregations to more orthodox.

    The Woman of the Wall do not represent “World Jewry”. Nor do the liberal movements in the US. They are powerful and a major segment of affiliated Jews in the US but they are far from world Jewry.

    To even make the statement “American Jews want etc. etc’ is a great exaggeration of who the Dan Brown claims to represent. Most American Jews don’t care one way or another. The percentage of reform and conservative american Jews is shrinking. The growing orthodox in the US do not agree and outside the US most of Jewry is affiliated with Orthodox (even though they may not be fully observant) and do not support this position.

    And lets get straight there is a compromise on the Wall. Its not perfect. But the Orthodox have not attempted to interfere with liberal services at Robinson’s Arch. Chances are that if the liberals continue to push this issue we will see a push-back. Just a few posters in Jerusalem will bring out a crowd of a tens, if not hundreds of thousands protesting Reform taking over the Kotel.

  19. Dan Brown says

    In an open town hall meeting this morning during The Jewish Agency’s Board meeting in Jerusalem (called to discuss this very issue), every speaker – including several who self-identified as Orthodox – called the current situation unacceptable. There was 100% agreement that the Kotel belongs to all Jews. Speaker after speaker expressed an overall desire to resolve the issue.

    Not one speaker defended the status quo.

  20. says

    Mr. Brown – I don’t think Reuvain disagrees that the Kotel belongs to all Jews and even mentioned that the reform have a place to pray how they want, without interference.

    I think he is saying that of those Jews around the world who care (and those who pray at the Kotel every day, for that matter) are almost all Orthodox. How do you respond to Reuvain?

  21. Dan Brown says

    Almost all who pray at the Kotel are Orthodox because the Western Wall Foundation has made it uncomfortable for anyone who does not follow their practice to pray at the Kotel.

    By Reuvain saying “who represents world Jewry, its the Woman of the Wall” he shows his complete ignorance of the facts. He is to hung up, as so many others are, on blaming the Reform and the Conservative. Reuvain (and you) should speak with all the Israeli ORTHODOX who are upset at what is taking place. Here’s one example; there are many many more:

  22. Dan Brown says

    Oh, and saying that “of those Jews around the world who care … are almost all Orthodox” is an insult to all non-Orthodox Jews wherever they live.

  23. says

    Umm… take a look at the intermarraige statistics sometime in the US, and let me know why it’s an insult to say that the heterdox don’t care about Judaism. I was one, and I am the only one of my siblings not to intermarry. If the Torah isn’t true and isn’t worthy of being followed, I don’t know why you’d bother caring about what a bunch of Orthodox Jews do at a holy site.

    If praying at the Western Wall is uncomfortable, move over 75 feet to Robison’s Arch and rival the number of Orthodox praying. Last time I saw a heterdox-affiliated Jew pray three times a day, every day, through rain and snow was never. Again, if you don’t believe Torah was given at Mt. Sinai and that our 3,300 years of interpreting the Torah are the basis for what we do at a holy site, then why are you at the holy site causing trouble, anyway?

  24. Dan Brown says

    I’m not dispensing with your opinion, you’re entitled to it. I’m just choosing not to continue the conversation.

  25. Bob Hyfler says

    It is so interesting that Dan’s well reasoned article and the many passionate and thoughtful responses unveil any number of fault lines in our global Jewish world – each one of them (along with unstated others) begging further discussion and perhaps debate:

    To whom does the Kotel or any iconic religious site (of any faith) belong? Are ownership, stewardship, access and sovereignity one and the same?

    What role should religion and the rabbinate (of any streams) play in in a “Jewish” state? Are we experiencing today a revitalization on multipe fronts of a triumphalist religious paradigm in defining our identity 100 years after Zionism and the enlightenment changed the historical equation? (And does this question now help understand the challenging nature of one of A.B. Yehoshua’s basic counter-assertions that the experience of culture, language and a majoritarian civic culture in Israel will always define Jewish identity and vitality more than birth and religjous dictates?)

    For whom does the Jewish Agency speak and what is its role? A spokesman for the interests of global Jewry or the voice of a world Zionist collective dedicated to building a strong and just Israel? (A distinction I believe with an important difference).

    What role and voice should the Diaspora have in Israel affairs? And when voices in the diaspora speak how should Israeli society and the state listen?

    What responsibility does the Israeli state and its legal institutions have to world Jewry? How is that relationship reciprocal?

    For the record, I support the efforts and rights of Women of the Wall and believe Chairman Sharansky should as well, both personally as a Jew and in his official role safeguarding the Zionist enterprise.

  26. reuvain says

    Let me state clearly, every Jew has the right, I would put it in other terms the “responsibility” to pray at the Kotel ( since in Judaism there are no rights just responsibilities -that is the diffidence between Judaism and western liberal thought) Every Jew should be welcome.

    Nor did I say only the Orthodox care about the Wall. My point was totally different. The majority of Jews who affiliate to the Jewish community in the world are members of Orthodox Shuls. Don’t claim to speak in the name of World Jewry or American Jewry. You are speaking for one segment of the Jewish community.

    Every Jew should be welcome at the Wall. You can’t throw practices rooted in three thousand years of precedence since a group of some American Jews want to change tradition. In particular when according to classical Jewish belief, these traditions are part of a Torah tradition reaching back to Sinai.

    Here lies the core of the issue. On one side is a group who honestly believes in the Torah and its mandates that cannot be uprooted. On the other side on the modern liberal movements who believe that they should be changed and have modified them.

    Why the tumult at the Wall, its very simple its about validation and symbolism. “If my version of Judaism is not good at the Wall and accepted, then my version of Judaism is not validated. So I am going to make a ruckus, get myself arrested, call my buddies at the NY Times and make an international issue because this offends American Jewry”.

    Lets be very honest. The theological differences between those who have been loyal to classical tradition, (in modern parlance the orthodox) and those who have made the changes (the R & C) is unbridgeable. The group that believes Torah can be changed does not accept the absolute belief by those who see it as a Divine document given at Sinai. Basically we have a Mexican Stand Off.

    How do we get along. The solution is not the new philosophy called “Religious Pluralism”. That was created by the liberals to validate their own system of belief. Its time to recognize that we need to agree to disagree, find common ground where possible, and realize that each belief system precludes the others. We need to be honest with each other about our profound differences.

    I think that the fact the Orthodox have not protested Robinson’s Arch is a major concession. And while Women of Wall can bring out a few dozen, they can bring out hundreds of thousands. They have taken a policy of “Live and Let live” in regards to this issue, despite not agreeing.

    Not so the Reform and Conservative. Why, its a great wedge issue for them. It touches their inner identity, “my Judaism is not good enough”, energizes the base, its great for PR and WOW is making big bucks. And in a time where these movements are suffering from a lack of vision, its great to have an enemy, and the Ultras are a great target.

    The question is is this good for the Jews.

    Let’s be real the Orthodox are not going to budge. If Sharansky decides to change the arrangement at the Kotel a million people will turn out, the government will fall, ( the orthodox can use this issue for its symbolism also) and it will be the end of the issue. This is non winnable for the liberals. If they want to win, let then work on the grass roots to increase their ever shrinking numbers. If they want to continue this battle in the meanwhile they can be oppressed by the Ultras, energize the base.

    In the meanwhile I don’t think this is good for the Jewish community.

  27. says

    This just in from today.
    Agency holds ‘town hall’ talk on women’s Kotel prayer services

    If the “Kotel belongs to all Jews,” as one take has it, does that permit female-led prayer services, including donning talitot and holding Rosh Chodesh Torah readings? Airing a thorny issue at the Board of Governors meeting of The Jewish Agency for Israel.

    JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – A headline-making debate in Israel and abroad over the status of alternative women’s prayer services at the Kotel (the Western Wall) was reflected at a town hall – style session held at the Board of Governor’s Committee of the Unity of the Jewish People on Tuesday.
    This last Rosh Chodesh, while on a mission to Israel, sponsored in part by The Jewish Agency for Israel, two female members of the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America were arrested alongside the Women of the Wall, an ongoing prayer quorum that gathers each month for morning shaharit prayer services.

    In December, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu asked Jewish Agency Chairperson for the Executive, Natan Sharansky, to speak with all parties involved in the matter and to make suggestions as how to best move forward in resolving the hotly-debated issues involved. Tuesday’s meeting served as a platform for Board members to offer their take on the subjects involved.

    Hosted by Sharansky, introduced by Committee Chair Shoel Silver Natan and run by Deputy Chair Lori Klinghoffer, most of the comments in the session emanated from both local and international Reform and Progressive Judaism adherents.

    The resounding message was that the “Kotel belongs to all Jews,” as Gilad Kariv, Executive Director of the Israel Reform Movement said, citing a 2003 Supreme Court ruling. He added that it should be remembered that the Kotel is both a religious and a national site.

    Board members from Great Britain and South Africa also spoke about the additional negative press that this issue has earned Israel in the international media.

    Local residents also spoke out on varying aspects of the arguments.

    “I don’t like what the Charedi did to my society—but they also have rights!” said Jerusalemite Zvi Raviv. Others also brought up what they said were an imbalance of views in the room. Most agreed that the only feasible solution would be a compromise that satisfied all of the sides.

    A Reconstructionist-affiliated speaker from Canada used her own family as an example of Jewish Unity, noting that while she herself leins (reads) from the Torah, her son is an Orthodox rabbi.

    “What is important is to keep our family together,” she stressed – wherever the resolutions lay – and added that was fundamental to find a way to keep the “glue of our family” together.

    Sharansky concluded that “Our power as The Jewish Agency is that we can provide a platform for discussion,” and emphasized that the Agency does not serve as a lobby for US Jewry in the Israeli government.

    He thanked the participants and said that the discussion would open up in the Knesset parliament only once a coalition government was formed.
    Note of clarity, the mission was completely sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America.

  28. says

    Messianic Judaism is a religious movement that arose in the 1960s and 70s. It blends evangelical Christian theology with elements of religious Jewish practice and terminology. Messianic Judaism generally holds that Jesus is both the Jewish Messiah and “God the Son” (one person of the Trinity), though some within the movement do not hold to Trinitarian beliefs. With few exceptions, both the Torah and the New Testament are believed to be authoritative and divinely inspired scripture.

    Salvation in most forms of Messianic Judaism is achieved only through acceptance of Jesus as one’s savior. It is believed that all sin has been atoned for by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Any Jewish laws or customs that are followed are cultural and do not contribute to salvation. Belief in the messiahship and divinity of Jesus, which Messianic Judaism generally shares, is viewed by many Christian denominations and Jewish religious movements as a defining distinction between Christianity and Judaism. Accordingly, mainstream Christian groups usually accept Messianic Judaism as a form of Christianity.

    Some adherents of Messianic Judaism are ethnically Jewish, and many of them argue that the movement is a sect of Judaism. Does this also mean that when Jews who identify as rabbis in the messianic movements also want to have their ‘rights’ at the Kotel that this should also be allowed? Should we set up a site especially for them?

    How interesting that non Jews who come to the Kotel to pray have no problem participating according to the present rules. Why is it that only Jews have such a problem?

    Today in the mitzvot of the day, according to Jewish law, women are not to dress as men, nor men as women. When the Torah states that HaShem says that HIS laws are in effect for now and for all time, who are we to change this? Either we observe Jewish Law or we do not. And don’t bring up to me the situation of stoning our children for misbehaving. Perhaps if the parents didn’t misbehave, the children wouldn’t either.