Jewish group cancels Netanyahu dinner over Western Wall decision ~ BETA NAIJA BLOG: Breaking News, Latest News, Entertainment, Sport, Politics, Comedy and World News

Monday, 26 June 2017

Jewish group cancels Netanyahu dinner over Western Wall decision


File photo taken on 16 May 2017 showing Jewish women praying at the Western Wall in the old city of Jerusalem
Image caption Women and men must pray in separate 
areas at the main section of the Western Wall
A leading Israeli Jewish group has cancelled a gala dinner with Israel's PM after his government froze plans to upgrade a mixed-gender area for prayer at Jerusalem's Western Wall.
The board of the Jewish Agency, which facilitates Jewish immigration to Israel, said it "deplored" the move.
It also rebuked ministers for backing a controversial conversions law.
Both decisions were taken in response to pressure from ultra-Orthodox parties in Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition.
The Western Wall is a remnant of the retaining wall of the mount on which the biblical Jewish temples once stood, and is one of the most sacred sites in Judaism.
Every year, millions of Jews from all over the world visit the wall to pray. It is administered by the Orthodox rabbinate and, in accordance with Orthodox tradition, men and women must pray in separate areas.
Image caption Benjamin Netanyahu said in 2016
 that he wanted "one wall for one people"
For years the more liberal Reform and Conservative movements, which have large followings outside Israel, campaigned for a mixed-gender prayer space.
Since 2013, a temporary prayer area for mixed worship was opened at the southern end of the wall and in 2016, Mr Netanyahu's cabinet voted in favour of plans to upgrade it.
But after two ultra-Orthodox parties in the coalition raised objections to the plans, ministers voted at a meeting on Sunday to suspend their implementation.
The parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, said the decision reflected "the will of most of the nation that seeks to safeguard the Western Wall's sanctity and status".
Later, a ministerial committee also voted to advance a bill that would grant the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate a monopoly over Jewish conversion in Israel.
Under the proposed legislation, the state would no longer be able to recognise conversions carried out by independent Orthodox rabbinical courts and would be prevented from recognising non-Orthodox conversions in the future. Critics said it could potentially affect hundreds of thousands of Israelis.
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