AP via

When the Israeli government approved a mixed-gender prayer area at the Kotel, the Associated Press and many other news organizations broadcast the news.

Rafi Margolies, Cooper Yeshiva High School for Boys, Memphis

A Jew is a Jew. No matter his or her faith, no matter his or her background, no matter his or her status; someone who has a Jewish mother is a full-fledged Jew (even Mel Brooks).

Just because I don’t have the same beliefs as a Conservative or Reform Jew, and because I am not an egalitarian nor do I support women putting on tefillin, that does not mean that I look down upon them with disregard or believe that their views should be just thrown away. Just because my rabbi is a man and my friend’s rabbi is a woman, that doesn’t change my respect and regard for him. They have been a Jew since birth, just as myself.

In a world such as our own, with hatred and disparity around every corner, the least that can be asked of the Jewish nation is to be united as one. And the State of Israel agrees with me.

This past week, the Cabinet of Israel passed, with a 15-5 vote, the creation of a new, third, section of the Kotel. In addition to the two existing two sections, male and female respectively, an egalitarian section will be added, with $3.5 million funding for the needs of their prayer.

I am in full support. Israel, the center of global Judaism, has to be setting the stage for Judaism across the world. Israel already has done so much for the Jewish people, but are now sending an important message to the entire world. Israel is telling the world that every Jew should be valued equally. Every Jew has the right to practice Judaism in the way that they believe in and personally connect to it. However, there has been much opposition to this enactment, especially from the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) world.

The disdaining Haredim believe that regardless of the respect we should show Reform and Conservative Jews, we should not be giving up on this key, Orthodox, belief, something which can be very expected from an extreme group of any religion. They believe that the creation of this third section will detract from the spiritual level of Israel, as it runs contrary to their beliefs. However, I believe this third section is a far too long awaited necessity.  It is high-time that Israel respects their views and further foster unity throughout the Jewish nation.

How can our Jewish homeland cater to only the Orthodox part of our nation? How can we be striving to bring mashiach before we even respects our fellows Jews’ beliefs? In last week’s parsha, the recently liberated Jewish nation stood at Mount Sinai “k’ish echad, b’lev echad”, “like one man with one heart.” Personal differences were left behind and strife was forgotten about. The actions of Israel have brought us one step closer to attaining this status, standing as an am echad, one unified nation, in our Holy Land.