19 May 2017
British Liberal and Reform Judaism rabbis and members took part in a landmark service at the Kotel – which included a Torah reading with all genders participating.
The senior rabbis of both movements, Rabbis Danny Rich and Laura Janner-Klausner, carried the scrolls during the service (pictured), which was attended by 450 Progressive Jews from all around the world.
Israel newspaper Ha’aretz reported that: “This was the first time in recent history that non-Orthodox Jews have held a Torah reading service, in which women participated, with no interferences in the upper plaza of the Western Wall. The upper plaza is the area located right above and in full view of the traditional gender-segregated prayer plazas.”
The service formed part of the first full day of World Union for Progressive (WUPJ) Judaism Connections Conference, which this year is being held in Jerusalem.
Danny, who received the honour of carrying the Women of the Walk scroll during the Kotel service, is taking part in the conference along with Liberal Judaism chair Simon Benscher, director of strategy and partnerships Rabbi Charley Baginsky, co-chair of Rabbinic Conference Rabbi Richard Jacobi, vice president Rabbi Harry Jacobi, officer Robin Moss, Rabbi Lea Mühlstein and others from the movement.
The Connections event opened on Wednesday night at the Taylet in Jerusalem with a stunning gala. Thursday saw the celebration of the batmitzvah of nine women from South America at Robinson’s Gate in the Old City, which ended with the Kotel service.
WUPJ president Rabbi Daniel Freelander said: “Our raison d’etre for gathering at the Kotel was to celebrate our movement’s continuing commitment to egalitarianism.”
Miriam Olchansky, from Argentina, was one of those celebrating. She added: “When I heard about the opportunity to celebrate my batmitzvah at the Kotel, in Israel, with my female colleagues and friends, I knew I could not let it pass. It was truly one of the most beautiful moments of my life.”
The four-day WUPJ conference focuses on milestones and innovation in Progressive Judaism around the world. To follow news updates from the event, visit www.wupjconnections.org.Click here to read the original Ha’aretz article
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