Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Israel does not reflect US Jews values

For all Jews,

Divided we FALL! UNITED we stand and WIN!

Ever wonder why 50% USA Jews assimilate and lose their Jewish heritage and affinity to Israel? Why 25% of American Buddhists are Jews? Why USA Jews have JewBudist Seder? You will the get the gist when you read all the posts below…

The Islamic Society of North America-ISNA, is the Muslim Brotherhood USA front and Union for Reform Judaism-URJ are "interfaith" partners.

URJ must think that it represents American Jews' "Jewish values".

The investigative Project on Terrorism gives us a good perspective what ISNA is all about; The Islamic Society of North America -

Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) writes: Claims in Doubt: The Islamic Society of North America; 'The Islamic Society of North America describes itself as the “largest mainstream Muslim community-based organization” in the United States. But a Special Report by CAMERA highlights the ISNA’s origin as a satellite of the anti-Western Muslim Brotherhood and the society’s continuing radical connections'.

ISNA lies about Israel just like the NY Times, the LA Times and everyone else on the Left and beyond.

On the West Coast, in Los Angeles, the URJ rabbis interfaith with the Muslim Public Affair Council-MPAC, which is another Muslim Brotherhood front whose "values" have been clearly described by The Investigative Project on Terrorism:

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) -

It is good that we are all well informed and I hope that among the informed are the government of Israel and Israel's rabbinate.

On November 26, 2012 I attended a town hall at the reform Synagogue Temple Emanuel, in Beverly Hills, California, The topic was, 'focusing on religious pluralism within Israel-looking forward: beyond the crisis in Israel'. One of the rabbis on the panel was Rabbi David Eliezrie of North County Chabad Center, who summed it all quite succinctly: the Jewish Reform Movement is not willing and not able to compromise to keep or nation together; they either force and get their way or they are willing to malign the Jewish state of Israel and all those Jews who do not agree with them.

Most of Jews in Israel, who are not observant, when it comes to attend synagogue service, they will prefer to attend an orthodox synagogue, not a reform and the reform movement in Israel is not doing well.

As a Jew, with no affiliation to any section of Judaism, orthodox, conservative or reform, but for being just a Jew, here is what I have to say: keep Reform Judaism OUT; no government support. Its goal is to turn Jewish kids away from Judaism and all Americans away from support for Israel. URJ goals is just like J Street goals, all against Israel's interests.

Nurit Greenger/Shirley Lewis
(with the support of ARZA and ARZA-Canada)
On November 29, 2012, the U.N. General Assembly voted 138-9 to recognize Palestine as a "non-member observer state," with 41 abstentions. This change was opposed by Israel, the United States and Canada, among others, which rightly held that any steps toward Palestinian statehood must come through direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, rather than the international body. In the words of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "[O]nly through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve: two states for two people, with a sovereign, viable and independent Palestine living side-by-side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel.''
The URJ and the CCAR have, for decades, been vocal and engaged proponents of a two-state peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has strongly opposed actions that would undercut prospects for peace. The ongoing failure to establish a viable peace poses security and other risks to Israel and is a disservice to those Palestinians who desire a peaceful future for their children and grandchildren. The U.N. vote undercuts incentives for a final arrangement that must be directly negotiated by the two impacted parties. This vote also has the potential to enable the Palestinians to challenge Israel, both diplomatically and legally, in U.N.-sponsored venues such as the International Criminal Court (ICC). Such a move would do serious damage to rebuilding the trust that needs to be fostered between Israel and the Palestinians.
A two-state solution, so vital to Israel's security and well-being, and its character as a Jewish and democratic state, as well as to the hopes for a viable Palestinian state, requires a Palestinian Authority (PA) strong enough to take political risks for peace. Endangering the viability of a PA already teetering on financial bankruptcy, or taking steps to make the prospects of returning to the negotiating table without preconditions more difficult, will only empower Hamas and its like-minded allies in Iran and elsewhere.
The recent violence in Gaza, with missiles reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and this U.N. action dramatize the urgency of resolving the underlying conflict. Many experts in Israel and the U.S. are expressing fears that prospects for a two-state solution are fading in the face of the growth of Hamas' influence, the weakening of the PA, the growth of settlements on the West Bank, and the instability in the region.
Strong steps must be taken by the U.S., Canada and the broader international community to foster the conditions for peace, including renewed negotiations and support for those voices among the Palestinians who seek peace through peaceful means. Foreign aid has historically been a key means of such support, including significant aid from the U.S. to the Palestinian Authority. This aid has, since its beginning, come with significant restrictions that have ensured it is used only by approved entities for approved purposes. (No U.S. aid is provided to Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip.)
In this context, we commended the Israeli government on its decision to refrain from calls for immediate cuts in aid. The day after the U.N. vote, however, the Israeli government announced the expansion of settlements on the West Bank, including in the critical "E1" area. (Settlements in E1-the area connecting Jerusalem to a city that is one of the larger Israeli settlements-would split the Ramallah region off from Bethlehem, effectively cutting the West Bank in two and making a contiguous Palestinian state virtually impossible. Because of this reality, previous Israeli governments have not proceeded with plans to build in this area.) Building there makes progress toward peace far more challenging, and is difficult to reconcile with the Government of Israel's stated commitment to a two-state solution. At the same time, we recognize that this week's action-beginning the permitting process for new settlement-is only the first step in a long, and by no means inevitable, process.
In response to the Palestinians' successful bid to become a nonmember observer state at the U.N., members of the United States Senate have proposed legislation that would require retaliatory measures against the PA, primarily if they use their new status to file charges against Israel in the ICC or if they fail to engage in meaningful negotiations with Israel.
THEREFORE, the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis resolve to:
1. Condemn the Palestinian Authority for the unilateral decision to seek upgraded status at the United Nation as counterproductive to the cause of peace , and express our deep concern to those countries that supported the upgraded status, and to those who abstained;
2. Commend the U.S. and Canada for their forceful and consistent efforts to prevent consideration of, and for their votes against, the General Assembly's decision to upgrade the formal status of the Palestinians, an action that is counterproductive to peace and undercuts negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians;
3. Call on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table immediately without preconditions, as Israel has committed to doing;
4. Urge the U.S. and Canada to act assertively in facilitating a return to negotiations and to take other steps that would strengthen the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution;
5. Support appropriate measures if the Palestinians use their new status at the U.N. to initiate formal action against Israel via the ICC or other agency;
6. Oppose actions taken after the U.N. vote that would undercut the prospects for renewing the peace process leading to a two-state solution, including:
a. Funding cuts in U.S. or Canadian support to the United Nations;
b. Funding cuts to the Palestinian Authority, which are likely to weaken the prospects for a two-state solution, endanger the viability of the Palestinian Authority, and empower Hamas and its like-minded allies; and
c. Any reduction in the currently recognized Palestinian diplomatic presence; and
7. Oppose increased settlement-building activity by Israel, especially in the critical "E1" area

Union for Reform Judaism Biennial Convention
Dr. Ingrid Mattson addressing URJ BiennialText of Dr. Mattson's Speech

For an Audio Version click here.
Click here for other media from this event.

Good morning and greetings of peace from the members of the Islamic Society of North America.
It is a great honor to have this opportunity to speak to the members of the Union for Reform Judaism at this wonderful convention.

Almost four months ago, Rabbi Yoffie stood in front of a general audience of attendees at the 44rth annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America, the organization of which I have been President since 2006. Our membership is diverse: it includes Muslims with origins from all parts of the world, men and women from different schools of thought and practice within Islamic tradition. We are an umbrella organization for Muslim individuals and organizations who wish to identify with and contribute to a larger vision of what it means to be a Muslim in North America, and who cooperate to develop strategies for achieving that vision. In the 44 years since we held our first convention, our umbrella has expanded and the voices included in dialogue have diversified: more women, more scholars representing different schools of Islamic thought, both modern and traditionalist, as well as leaders from other religious traditions.

Indeed, one significant feature of the American Muslim community is that it is dynamic, open to learning new ideas, and interested in expanding our understanding of what it takes to be an ethical and balanced Muslim in contemporary America. There are two major factors that have contributed to the positive transformation of the immigrant Muslim community especially:

First, the important role that religion plays in American history and culture. Muslims in the United States, unlike many Muslims in Europe, have found that religious affiliation and practice, in general, is valued in America. True, it was not and is not always easy finding ways to accommodate our specific religious practices in an overwhelmingly Christian society, but at least religion itself is not derided and marginalized. Muslims therefore are indebted to those who have championed the two twin pillars of religious vitality in American society: freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. We also are should be grateful to faithful believers, to Christians and Jews, who have demonstrated through their good works the positive power of faith in American society. The second major factor that has contributed to the dynamic transformation of the American Muslim community over the past few decades is the diversity of our community. As Muslims from different parts of the world came together in America to worship and fulfill the tenets of their faith, they did not always find themselves in agreement about the true Islamic position on many issues. Indeed, sometimes, the conversations became rather heated – and those disagreements have not yet ended in many places. Still, engaging in that conversation yielded two positive results. First, Muslims were forced to confront the reality that many cultural practices and beliefs contrary to our faith have been integrated into many traditional understandings of Islam. By confronting the differences, we became aware that sometimes the Islam that was been taught in Muslim societies was not in harmony with the ethical teachings of the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad, but were, in fact, misogynistic, authoritarian or extremist views antithetical to true Islam.

Secondly, the very act of discussing these differences, in a free society with no state-enforced religion, encouraged more respect for diversity within Islam, less support for authoritarian tendencies and a greater feeling of responsibility on the part of the ordinary Muslim to learn more about his or her religion.

I have to emphasize that not all Muslim Americans have embraced this perspective. We continue to receive new immigrants from other countries, some of whom are still deeply attached to their customs, and we have others who are simply ideologically opposed to dialogue and change.

It is because that many members of the Islamic Society of North America have gone through this process of transformation that our community is now ready to engage in a meaningful way with Jewish communities in this dialogue project. I suppose I should not have been surprised then, when the Muslims assembled in the hall at our annual convention on August 31 gave Rabbi Yoffie not just a polite response, but a standing ovation. In the weeks following the convention, I was approached by many people who were excited by our engagement with the Union for Reform Judaism. Many of our members have already established some connection between their local congregation and a nearby Jewish community – some of these relationships began a number of years ago. Others have been interested in reaching out, but did not know where to start. Most of our communities are severely limited in resources to develop such programs.

Indeed, as we move forward with our dialogue project, I ask our Jewish partners to keep this in mind. Muslims are not new to America – indeed, a significant number of the Africans brought to the Americas as slaves were Muslim, but of course, they were neither allowed to practice their religion, nor to transmit it to their children. It is only in the last few decades, therefore, that our community has been able to begin to establish institutions that support our religious life and allow us to teach our children our practices and values. We are still in the early stages of our development. Many communities are still building mosques, while others have moved to other basic facilities like community centers and schools. Our human resources are even less developed. We are blessed to have many wonderful people who volunteer to serve our communities, but, of course, they are limited in their time as well as the expertise needed to minister to and support American Muslim communities. We do not yet have a full-time Islamic seminary in America.

Although this lack of development might seem to be a drawback, because it limits the capacity of many of our communities to fully engage with neighboring Jewish congregations, in fact, the very existence of this gap in development provides a wonderful opportunity for constructive engagement. Jewish communities can offer practical advice and suggestions at this formative stage of the institutionalization of Islam in America. In many cases, Muslims have instinctively turned to the example of Jews in America to understand how to deal with the challenges we face as religious minorities – whether these challenges involve securing the right to religious accommodation in public institutions, or dealing with workplace discrimination.

At the same time, I believe that the Jewish community will also benefit from having Muslim partners in the struggle to uphold the Constitutional separation of church and state, to promote civil liberties, to extend religious accommodation to minorities, and to counter prejudice and hatred.

In his speech at our convention, Rabbi Yoffie discussed the increasing hatred and intolerance that is being expressed in public forums, in the media, and even by politicians towards Muslims. When Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to congress chose to have his ceremonial swearing of office using a Qur’an, he was attacked as un-American and a terrorist sympathizer. Now, during the presidential primaries, we see candidates being asked to prove that they comply with an ever narrower definition of what is means to be a Christian – forget about being a Muslim or a Jew. Alarmingly, many Americans implicitly or even explicitly are using a religious test for who should be President of the United States. This and other issues involving the separation of church and state and religious freedom are important areas of cooperation between American Jews and Muslims.

The American Muslim community is well aware, after 9/11, that much false information about our community as well as our religion, has been disseminated by religious and political ideologues. It is also true that many Americans simply know little or nothing about Islam and, perhaps, naturally extrapolate from the nasty figures they see in the news to Muslims in general. Of course, it is our responsibility to reclaim Islam from the terrorists and extremists. That is why American Muslims have been public in our views on terrorism and extremism in the name of our religion. We have published fatwas – religious verdicts – proving that suicide bombing, vigilante operations, terrorism, and hate-mongering is prohibited in true Islam. We have issued press releases, we have published articles and books, we have delivered sermons, we have given lectures to Muslims of all ages, we have held workshops and seminars, we have met with government officials in the US and abroad – all with the goal of spreading the message that mainstream Muslims oppose the extremists and we are putting our efforts, individually and institutionally, to marginalize those who misuse our religion for nefarious purposes.

The sad reality is that, no matter what we do, there are some who will choose to continue to characterize us and our religion as essentially evil. There is a long tradition of anti-Muslim discourse in European history and culture – from Dante to Don Quixote to Orientalism. I will never forget my visit to the Cathedral of Zaragoza a few years ago, where I was confronted with an image of a Muslim literally being crushed under the feet of Santiago. And on the other side of the Cathedral was a statue of Saint Dominguito – the patron saint of choir boys, who, according to our tour guide, “the Jews of Zaragossa conspired to murder;” all the alleged conspirators – all falsely accused – were executed. This story and these images are still being told and seen in this European church today. We all know, of course, what happened to the Muslims and Jews of medieval Spain.

In modern times, other forms of communication: newspapers, cartoons and films have continued to produce hateful images of Muslims, as they did with Jews before – sometimes the caricatures are almost identical. Medieval and modern European images of Jews as deceptive, conspiring to overthrow Christian rule, odd in their manner and dress, dehumanized Jews, thereby softening the ground to allow the atrocities of the Holocaust. Six million Jews in the heart of Europe , in the 20th century, brutalized and killed in the most despicable manner – how could that happen except by a successful campaign of propaganda, as well as a ruthless but efficiently rational system of identifying, classifying, collecting, moving and then exterminating Jewish men, women and children. This is one of the greatest tragedies of modern history and ISNA will witness to this truth, anytime and to anyone in the Muslim world who denies it.

Today, I do not fear that such a crime could happen to the American Muslim community. Yet I am anxious about the level of dehumanization of my community. I am worried that it is politically correct to mock and insult Muslims in the media and in public. It concerns me that, when I spoke in a church recently, one man likened the Muslims of the world to ants in a colony – saying that, like them, we may be working separately, but it is known that we are working together for a common purpose. To analogize my community to a group of insects is deeply disturbing. The implication that we are conspiring towards a common nefarious goal is upsetting to say the least. But these ideas are necessary to allow atrocities. It is, I believe, why most Americans have not protested waterboarding, sensory deprivation and other forms of torture of Muslim detainees and even Muslim American citizens.

I believe that hatred and intolerance is easily transferable. I am not surprised that some young men who responded “Happy Hannukah” to “Merry Christmas” were attacked on the New York subway. I am happy that it was a Muslim who jumped in to defend the Jewish men. This small incident highlights our common threat at the same time as it highlights our common interests and shared humanity.

This is why I am delighted that ISNA and the URJ are embarking on this dialogue project, so our communities can learn about each other, to rid ourselves of the ignorance we have of the other, and move on, God willing, to work together for the greater good.

I am not naïve about the challenges we face as we undertake this project. Certainly my Muslim community will need to draw upon the skills we have developed to distinguish true Islam from cultural biases and medieval accretions to our religion when it comes to the Jewish community. Muslim anti-Semitism was never like European Christian anti-Semitism, but it existed in any case. And unfortunately, there are ambitious political rulers in the Muslim world who manipulate religious sentiment against the Jewish people to extend their authoritarian rule. At the same time, Jewish Americans need hear the concern that Muslim Americans express about the suffering of the Palestinian people as genuine and justified, and not assume that such concern originates from a hatred of the Jewish people. I have seen the tears of elderly Palestinian men as they spoke about being forced to leave the homes of their fathers and their fathers’ fathers during the founding of the state of Israel. I have been moved by those tears as I was moved by the site of numbers tattooed on the forearms of elderly men who survived the Holocaust. If religion is about anything, it should be about the ability to extend empathy beyond our own family or tribe or religious community to humanity at large.

Certainly our children know this. Our Jewish and Muslim children meet each other in school and in sports and they care about other. The question is, will the religious teachings that we impart to our children serve to expand their empathy and encourage solidarity with each other, at the same time as these teachings serve the very important purpose of giving them a deep sense of attachment to their specific communities and traditions. Polls show that in the last decade, fewer numbers of Americans identify with any religious tradition, and more Americans view religion as a negative force in society. If our religious traditions are going to survive, they have to demonstrate not only that they are good in themselves, but that they are good all together. That religious difference does not lead to conflict and disorder in society, but that religious differences only serve to enrich our collective understanding of the Creator who is beyond the comprehension of any created being. The Qur’an states, “To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If God had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He has given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to God. It is He who will show you the truth of the matters in which you now dispute (5:48).” Let us strive for good, to improve each of us, and to improve all of us. May God help us in this effort.
Israel does not reflect US Jews values: URJ President
URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs (file photo)
URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs (file photo)
Wed Nov 14, 2012
President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Rabbi Rick Jacobs says North American Jews believe Israel does not reflect their core values.

“There’s got to be a sense that Israel gives non-Orthodox Jews the same kind of Jewish opportunities. Because of issues such as Anat Hoffman’s arrest at the Kotel ... North American Jews don’t see an Israel that reflects their core values,” Jacobs said in an interview with Haaretz.

The Israeli police arrested activist Anat Hoffman for leading a women’s prayer service at the Western Wall in violation of Israeli laws governing the Israeli holy site, which bar women from praying while wearing a tallit prayer shawl or from reading aloud from the Torah.
The URJ President added that American Jews are applying stricter definitions to the meaning of “pro-Israel” and the US Jewry is “afraid” to conduct internal discussions regarding Israel.

“Conversations about Israel often get polarized, so we’ve stopped having them. And that’s the worst kind of disengagement there is,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs, who is the ‘scholar in residence’ at this year’s General Assembly in Baltimore, also noted that “the ever-diminishing circle of who is included in the word ‘we’ has gotten so small that it’s a shame. There is a wider community that cares a great deal about Israel, but they don’t care within the narrow parameters that the organized Jewish world has framed.”

Jacobs is the first denominational leader and the first Reform Jew to ever serve as the Baltimore General Assembly’s “scholar in residence.”

Women Arrested at Western Wall For Refusing To Remove Prayer Shawls
Dec 23, 2012 
Women Arrested at Western Wall For Refusing To Remove Prayer Shawls
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Since the first arrest of this nature back in 2009, a number of women have been detained by Israeli security for attempting to pray at Jerusalem's Western Wall with tallitot, fringed prayer shawls that are traditionally reserved for men. While the Wall (called the Kotel by some) is considered one of the great equalizers of the Jewish faith, where Israeli and international people of all denominations of Judaism can pray together, some of its older rules and regulations are currently under attack by Israel's Reform Movement. Women and tallitot is one issue under fire, as well as the gendered segregation at the main part of the Wall.
In accordance to the Orthodox rabbi who dictates the protocol at the Kotel, a Supreme Court ruling deemed that police would block any woman who attempted to defy the tallitot ruling. Including those checked for smuggled tallitot was Bonnie Devora Haberman, one of the founders of Women of the Wall, a movement to allow more freedom for women in prayer at the Wall that began in 1988. Haberman asked the unmoved guard: "How can you say this to me? I'm a Jew. This is my state."
In 2003, it was ruled that a discreet part of the Wall would be open to co-ed prayer with tallitot, tefillin and kippahs, but women like Rabbi Laura Geller of Temple Emanuel argue that it's not enough.

We are "allowed" to convene eleven times a year in the women's sections for public prayer, as long as we move to Robinson's Arch for the Torah service. There we can wear tallitot and tefillin; there it is possible to have women and men pray together. But Robinson's Arch, while technically part of the Western Wall, is not the "main" Kotel, not the iconic symbol that so many Jews consider sacred.
As some of the women who have been leading the protests are not native Israelis, the head of the ultra-Orthodox Western Wall Heritage Fund denounced the movement as an attention-seeking movement by foreigners. "They don't come here to pray, they want to protest. They hurt us, the Jewish people, by distorting the truth." However, Elana Sztokman, the director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance says that the women's prayer movement is only one of the inevitable changes that comes along with determining a modern truce between the Jewish diaspora and the Jewish state—and the changes are probably going to be good.
Says Sztokman: "The next chapter of what it means to be a Jewish state is being defined right now. We have to figure out what does Israel want, what role do we really want religion to have in this state? And it's happening on the backs of women."
'Women at the Wall: Wrapped in Light Like a Garment' [HuffPo]

Israel to Review Curbs on Women’s Prayer at Western Wall
Published: December 25, 2012
JERUSALEM — Amid outrage across the Jewish diaspora over a flurry of recent arrests of women seeking to pray at the Western Wall with ritual garments in defiance of Israeli law, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Jewish Agency, to study the issue and suggest ways to make the site more accommodating to all Jews.
The move comes after more than two decades of civil disobedience by a group called Women of the Wall against regulations, legislation and a 2003 Israeli Supreme Court ruling that allow for gender division at the wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites, and prohibit women from carrying a Torah or wearing prayer shawls there. Although the movement has struggled to gain traction in Israel, where the ultra-Orthodox retain great sway over public life, the issue has deepened a divide between the Jewish state and Jews around the world at a time when Israel is battling international isolation over its settlement policy. Critics, particularly leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements in the United States, complain that the government’s recent aggressive enforcement of restrictions at the wall has turned a national monument into an ultra-Orthodox synagogue.
“The prime minister thinks the Western Wall has to be a site that expresses the unity of the Jewish people, both inside Israel and outside the state of Israel,” Ron Dermer, Mr. Netanyahu’s senior adviser, said in an interview on Tuesday. “He wants to preserve the unity of world Jewry. This is an important component of Israel’s strength.”
Mr. Sharansky, whose quasi-governmental nonprofit organization handles immigration for the state and is a bridge between Israel and Jews around the world, said that Mr. Netanyahu asked him on Monday to take up the matter, and that he expected to have recommendations within a few months. He and Mr. Dermer said the agenda would include improvements for Robinson’s Arch, a discreet area of the wall designated for coed prayer under the court ruling, and the easing of restrictions in the larger area known as the Western Wall plaza, along with the more sensitive questions regarding prayer at the main site.
Mr. Sharansky said the Jewish Agency itself stopped having ceremonies for new immigrants in the plaza about two years ago after the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which controls the site, said that men and women could not sit together. Under pressure from the international groups that provide its financing, the agency passed a resolution on Oct. 30 calling for a “satisfactory approach to the issue of prayer at the Western Wall.”
Asked whether he could imagine a day when women could wear prayer shawls and read Torah at the wall itself, Mr. Sharansky said, “I imagine very easily a situation where everybody will have their opportunity to express their solidarity with Judaism and the Jewish people and the state of Israel in a way he or she wants, without undermining the other.”
“That’s as much as I want to say at this moment,” he added. “Now I have to share this vision with the appropriate bodies.”
Mr. Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and widely respected figure, has been called upon before to broker peace with the diaspora over questions of religious pluralism, most recently during a harsh fight over conversion. Anat Hoffman, the chairwoman of Women of the Wall, reacted with cautious optimism to Mr. Netanyahu’s initiative, but said it would not stop the Israel Religious Action Center, of which she is executive director, from filing a Supreme Court petition as soon as next week challenging the makeup of the heritage foundation’s board.
“It’s a good thing that after 24 years the highest echelons in Israel are actually paying attention to this rift that is breaking diaspora Jews from Israel,” she said. “The table that should run the Western Wall should have everyone who has an interest in the wall sitting around it.”
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the head of the heritage foundation, said in an e-mailed statement that he was unaware of the Sharansky initiative and therefore “does not have an opinion about it.”
While Ms. Hoffman said the women’s group would be satisfied if it were allowed to pray at the wall once a month with full regalia, her religious action center wants hours each day, between scheduled prayer times, when the gender partition is removed and people can freely enjoy the site as a cultural monument.
“If in the end what happens is that the Robinson’s Arch area will be run by the Jewish Agency instead of the antiquities department, then we’re talking about who’s going to take care of the air-conditioning in the back of the bus,” she said. “I don’t care about that. I don’t want to sit in the back of the bus. I want to dismantle the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.”
Abraham H. Foxman, the director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he discussed the wall and other questions of religious pluralism with Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday.
“This is a wise initiative, but it’s only a beginning,” Mr. Foxman said.

Irit Pazner Garshowitz contributed reporting.

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