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Debating the Tactics of Women of the Wall

iEngage Fellow Yossi Klein Halevi and Institute Fellow Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabbath Beit-Halachmi debated the issue live and online, Dec. 18, 2012. Click here or on the image to watch


Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi (C) and Yossi Klein Halevi (L) debated the Women of the Wall on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, in a live webinar broadcast at Shalom Hartman Institute in Jeruaslem. Click on the Arrow above to play the video.

The controversy surrounding Women of the Wall attempts to hold monthly prayer services at the Western Wall continue. Last Friday saw several arrests and new restrictions on women at this holy site in Jerusalem. Ahead of this month’s confrontation, Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI) Senior iEngage Project Fellow Yossi Klein Halevi engaged SHI Scholar Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi on this subject in his Jewish Week Point-Counter-Point column.
While agreeing on the essential goals of Women of the Wall, Yossi and Rachel disagreed deeply over their tactics and approach. Yossi said WOW should “declare victory” and head over to the Robinson’s Arch area of the Kotel, which has been set aside for pluralistic prayer. Rachel said that accepting such a situation would negate virtually all of the group’s essential points.

In their conversation, Yossi attempted to convince Rachel that the Women of the Wall should "declare victory" and move their tefillot to the Robinson’s Arch area of the Wall. Rachel’s responded that giving up efforts to create “equal access” to the Kotel for non-Orthodox prayer was not acceptable.

What we are especially proud of is the way these two colleagues and friends discussed this passionate issue – in depth, with deep knowledge, showing each other respect, listening to each other’s arguments, and understanding the strength of their interlocutor’s case, even as they continued to disagree. This is the model for the kind of conversation we at the Shalom Hartman Institute believe the Jewish world should be having on all sorts of issues.
We welcome your comments on the article page itself, and hope that you will find it something you will want to pass along to friends and colleagues, by email, Facebook, Twitter, or other methods. If you have questions you would like either Rachel or Yossi to address, please click here to send them to us.
We hope that our participation in this conversation will aid in a deeper understanding of this complex and contentious issue.

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