US Jewish groups warn of ‘rupture’ if Western Wall deal collapses

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American and Israeli Jewish leaders said they are frustrated the Israeli government appears to be backtracking from its groundbreaking commitment to create a government-funded egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall and warned of a possible rupture in relations.

“There is a deep concern, bordering on disbelief, that this deal may not be implemented,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the U.S.-based Union for Reform Judaism, told The Associated Press after an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday (June 1).

If the government doesn’t move forward with its pledge, it could cause “a rupture” with American Jewry, Jacobs added.

The agreement, which followed two years of negotiations between the heads of the Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism, the Jewish Federations of North America and the feminist prayer group Women of the Wall, was approved by the Israeli Cabinet on Jan. 31.

At the time, the leaders hailed it as the first step toward official government recognition of the rights of liberal Jews, whose clergy and institutions receive only token government funding and whose religious practices are not recognized in public spaces.

On March 31, Netanyahu imposed a 60-day freeze on the project to give him time to win approval from the ultra-Orthodox lawmakers in his coalition government who have threatened to bring down the government if the plan goes through.

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