The Controversies at the Kotel

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The Kotel currently operates under the governance of Orthodox rabbinic authorities. There is a separation between men and women. Women's prayer groups or non-Orthodox prayer services are not allowed. Recently a woman was arrested for violating the Orthodox rules that govern the Kotel area. A group known as Women of the Wall insist that women be given greater access to prayer at the Kotel. Non-Orthodox groups insist that the Kotel should be available for non-Orthodox prayer services, without separation of genders. Many Orthodox Jews find the current situation unsatisfactory for a variety of reasons.

It is very sad that the Kotel--which should be a unifying spiritual
center for the Jewish people--is in fact a source of controversy. I would like to offer a suggestion, however strange it may seem at first glance.

My opinion is that no formal prayer services should be allowed at
the wall--not for men, not for women, not for Orthodox, not for
non-Orthodox. The Kotel should be a place for private prayer and
meditation, and that's it. If people want to have formal prayer
services, they should reserve space in the enclosed areas to the left
of the Kotel square; and those services should be conducted however the
group that reserves the space wants.

I fully understand that my suggestion will be totally rejected by
the current religious authorities who control the Kotel. But these
authorities alienate the vast majority of Jews, and treat the Kotel as
though it is their own--when it in fact belongs to all the Jewish
people. My suggestion has the advantage of taking the Kotel area out of
the realm of religious controversy. Perhaps we can hope that the powers-that-be in Israel will understand their responsibility to keep the Kotel as a spiritual center for all the Jewish people; and this can
best be done (I think) by reserving the Kotel only for private prayer
and meditation, with no formal prayer services conducted by any groups.

What do you think?