Representing Global Progressive Jewry: the World Union Reports from Jerusalem

On Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, Tuesday, November 2, 2016, the World Union represented global voices of Reform and Progressive Jews at the Kotel to march for Jewish religious rights.

"It was an exhilarating moment," reflected Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander, President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ). "To march with more than a dozen Torah scrolls through security and towards the Wall," he continued, "and then to pass those scrolls to the Women of the Wall was an inspiring and reaffirming moment. This is why we work so hard - to bring together the global voices of Progressive Judaism to stand together for recognition and validation of all Jews of all streams of Judaism."

Among the 200 individuals marching were Reform, Progressive, Liberal and Conservative rabbis and leaders from around the world including ARZENU, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), Netzer young adults, NFTY EIE students, the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), and Women of the Wall, all led by the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ).

The protest arose in response to continued delays by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in implementing changes to the Western Wall plaza and management that would render the holy site inclusive of egalitarian Reform and Conservative prayer groups.  

WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander joins hundreds
of rabbis and leaders from Reform, Progressive and Liberal
Jewish religious groups at the Western Wall

"We marched unsure of the outcome, holding tightly to the Torah Scrolls, while Kotel security agents tried to wrestle them from our arms. We were very aware of the fact that this would be a historic moment: either we would succeed in bringing multiple Torah scrolls to the women's section for the first time, or we would be confronted by authorities at the entrances and denied access."

Leaders of ARZENU then joined with 250 delegates at the World Zionist Organization (WZO) Zionist General Council (ZGC) to have our Progressive voices heard in the development of Zionist directions, policies and programming. Yaron Shavit, Vice Chair of the WUPJ Management Committee and member of the Executive of the WZO ZGC, coordinated the ARZENU efforts at the WZO conference.

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