One Wall for One People in Jerusalem

San Francisco, CA – We are writing to let you know that we are deeply troubled by Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision this week to suspend an agreement to create a dignified, egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem. Our Federation has wholeheartedly supported a global effort led by the Jewish Federations of North America, in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel, over the past four years to create "one Wall for one people," and we are very disappointed by this surprising reversal.

As a community that loves Israel and treasures its pluralism and many legitimate expressions of Jewish identity, we must assert our deep concern with this monolithic and exclusive interpretation of Judaism. Israel needs American Jewry, and we need a strong, unified Israel. Reneging on the Kotel agreement weakens both of us.

The Kotel is the spiritual hub of the Jewish people – a sacred Jewish site, a piece of our history, and a potent symbol of Jewish tradition, faith, and observance. We maintain that Jewish peoplehood is, by definition, broad and inclusive – that's what makes us strong and guarantees that we will flourish long into the future. Let us put politics aside and unite in a belief that Jewish pluralism and diversity are inherent strengths and not weaknesses.

We have registered our disappointment on the matter with the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco and plan to follow up with other branches of the Israeli government, including the delegation of Knesset members who visited our community this spring. We also support the work of members of our Gvanim program in Israel who have led grassroots efforts in support of pluralism at the Kotel and throughout Israel.

Those Gvanim leaders – a diverse group of Israelis of every Jewish background – are partners in our Federation's critical work to strengthen Israel's future by creating a truly shared society, in which every shade of Jewish observance and every "tribe" on the periphery of Israeli life are welcome and equal.

We will continue to work with our partner agencies and synagogues across the spectrum (including our Orthodox family) to develop strategies that ensure diverse Jewish representation at the Kotel and beyond.

In solidarity,

Danny Grossman                   Richard Fiedotin
Chief Executive Officer          Board Chair

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For immediate release

June 27, 2017