JERUSALEM — Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall, said rabbis must weigh whether to oppose a compromise proposal over egalitarian prayer at Judaism's holiest site.
In a statement April 25, Rabinowitz vowed to fight against "the slightest deviation" from customary practice at the Western Wall. However, he left unclear whether the compromise forged by Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky, which would create a permanent site for egalitarian prayer at a section of the Western Wall called Robinson's Arch, constituted such a deviation.
Earlier this month, Rabinowitz said he "can live with" the Sharanksy compromise. "This redivision of the plaza does not match my worldview, as I believe that there should be one site of prayer according to the place's customs, but we can live with this solution," Rabinowitz told Ynet.
But Rabinowitz's tone appears to have hardened after meetings with Orthodox rabbis in North America — whom Rabinowitz said oppose Sharansky's proposal — and in the wake of a court ruling this week that women's prayer in the existing women's section of the Western Wall Plaza should not be abridged.
"I will fight wholeheartedly against any harm to the holiness of the Western Wall, and I will not allow the slightest deviation from what is and has been customary at the site for decades," the statement said. Any change "will face strong opposition and bring about a civil war."