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. Click here or scroll below to participate in an interactive discussion on the subject.
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 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.
Now it's your turn. Please use the new social conversation function on this page - courtesy of Jerusalem start-up Tok Media - to add your voices to this conversation. We hope that our participation in this conversation - and yours - will aid in a deeper understanding of this complex and contentious issue.