Picture the scene: Men at the Wailing Wall, praying in one section, and a smaller section cordoned off for women to do the same. Also known as the Western Wall, one of the four Temple Mount support walls built by Herod over two thousand years ago, its proximity to the location of the Holy of Holies in the house of God has made it one of the most significant Jewish sites in the world.
Men in one section, women in the other. This is how it is today and has been since the Wall was first opened to the public in June 1967. And there are those who would like to keep things just as they are. But a change is coming. The Israeli government has agreed to implement a permanent, non-Orthodox prayer space at Robinson’s Arch where men and women can pray together. Estimates are that it will take about two years for this to become a reality. Meanwhile, the controversy continues.
I wonder how the words of the Lord through the pen of the prophet Isaiah, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples” (56:7) play in light of the recent decision. This verse refers not only to Israel but to outcasts and foreigners, and presumably, to women as well. I for one am happy to see a space at the Kotel (yet another name for the Wall) for all people to pray to the God of Israel—and I’d even add, not only women, but those of us (men and women alike) who are Messianic Jews.
After all, what does “all” mean, if not “all”?
Susan Perlman was quoted in an article in World Magazine on this very topic. Check out more on the topic at WorldMag.com.