The South African Union for Progressive Judaism (SAUPJ) and the South African Association of Progressive Rabbis (SAAPR) strongly condemn the decision by the Government of Israel to suspend the implementation of its own decision to establish a dignified space for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall. The Progressive Movement in South Africa joins in protest against this decision.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union of Reform Judaism in America says, “We are all too familiar with pluralism being held hostage to coalition politics, and to the rights of non-Orthodox Jews being subjugated to those of the ultra-Orthodox.”
The establishment of a dignified and secure space for egalitarian progressive prayer at the Kotel was the result of years of intense negotiations, led by Natan Sharansky, Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel. In 2016 he reached a solution that was accepted by all major denominations and was then adopted by the government and embraced by the world’s Jewish communities.
Monica Solomon, Chair of the SAUPJ: “South African Progressive Jews are proud and committed Jews with strong ties to Israel and our common Jewish heritage. Instead of allowing us to pray with dignity at the Western Wall we are now faced with an uphill struggle to bring Israel and the Jewish world closer together. Millions of Jews around the world whether Progressive, Orthodox or secular will not support this insulting decision.”
It is ironic that Israel, formed as a Zionist State, is one of the few places in the world were Jews do not enjoy religious freedom.
Netanyahu’s decision is both short-sighted and fraught with long-term danger. The Progressive Movement is far from a call to sever relations with Israel, and it is our belief that the damage is not yet irrevocable, but it is certainly the sign of a union in deep trouble. Israel should be doing everything it can to avoid alienating its core supporters, its own flesh and blood. Non-Orthodox Jews, in Israel and abroad, may not agree with everything that the Jewish state does, but the arguments and our passion reflect the connectedness of the global Jewish
MONICA SOLOMON RABBI GREG ALEXANDER
NATIONAL CHAIR, SAUPJ NATIONAL CHAIR, SAAPR