Some thoughts on the Kotel deal:

  1. I think it’s fine (and I’m usually the one to rain on the parade when the liberal movements announce “victories” in Israel).

  2. It’s all part of the same wall. There is nothing inherently more special about the section of wall where the “Kotel Plaza” is (except that it was exposed before 1967, and other parts of the wall weren’t).

  3. No, the segregated part of the Kotel isn’t the part of the western retaining wall that is closest to where the Temple stood; that part is underground, accessible through the tunnels.

  4. If the segregated part of the Kotel is special just because that’s what everyone thinks of as “The Kotel”, then that’s something we can collectively decide to change – we can think of Robinson’s Arch as the “main” Kotel, and the other part as belonging to fringe groups. We should insist that any tour groups organized by the American non-Orthodox Jewish community go only to the egalitarian part of the Kotel, so that that’s what the next generation imprints on.

  5. If the relative sizes of the different areas are a concern, we can raise that concern if the egalitarian area actually gets filled up.

  6. If people want to organize women-only prayer groups with Torah reading, nothing prevents them from doing so in the egalitarian area (as long as they’re ok with the possibility of men walking by).

  7. To the extent that the goal of Women of the Wall isn’t only about the Kotel itself but is about challenging the religion-state status quo in Israel (a goal that I fully support), there are still plenty of other pressure points for that.

  8. I get the sense that some liberal Jews want more than just an end to state-sponsored religious discrimination, but want the Orthodox community to see liberal Judaism as legitimate. But that’s not something we can ever expect to get, and also isn’t something that we should need. We create our own legitimacy; we don’t get legitimacy from anyone else’s stamp of approval.