Monday, April 24, 2006

Pay to Pray?!?

Based on the title of this post, one might conclude this is about the issue of charging money for tickets to High Holy Day services, but it is not. Conservative Jews in Jerusalem had to pay 30 shekels (about $6.50) in order to pray in the area assigned to them by the Western Wall. I find it shocking that they have to petition the Israeli Supreme Court to get this fee waived. Here is part of the article from Ynet News:

By Tal Rosner

If you are members of the Conservative Movement and you want to pray near the Western Wall, it's advisable to pass by a cash machine and withdraw a few dozen shekels, otherwise you can't enter.

A petition submitted by the Conservative Movement to the High Court says that members of the movement, who arrived at Robinson's Arch to pray near the Wall, are forced to pay NIS 30 every time because it is an archeological site.

The Conservative movement has held prayers at Robinson's Arch for years, in accordance with an agreement reached after many arguments and clashes over intentions of the movement's members to pray at the Western Wall plaza itself.

Those intentions were met with fury by the ultra-Orthodox, who refused to allow joint prayers between men and women near the Western Wall. In the end, after disturbances by the ultra-Orthodox in the end of 1999, it was agreed that the Conservative movement would hold its prayer sessions at Robinson's Arch.

'Unpleasant phenomenon'

The agreement was kept until 2004, when according to Conservative movement members, the Society for the Development of East Jerusalem, which runs the site, began charging payment for worshippers seeking to enter Robinson's Arch after eight in the morning, since it was an archeological site. [more]

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