Over the weekend in Israel, officials led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, voted to allow men and women to pray—together—at the Western Wall.
While there has been great opposition from the Orthodox and ultra-nationalist establishment, the initiative is a significant step forward for women’s rights, as well as Reform and Conservative equality.
The Western Wall, sometimes called the Wailing Wall, is considered one of the holiest sites in all of Israel. This 187-foot-long fortification is the surviving remains of the 20 BC Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Travelers come from around the world to worship here, and to cram their handwritten prayers between the stones.
No opening date has been announced, but a $9-million plan is underway to construct a permanent, mixed-gender prayer area—in the same place as the temporary mixed-gender platform that was erected in 2013— as well as a new entrance, separate from the Orthodox, gender-divided section.
Here, services for both men and women, as well as services led by women, will be officially permitted.
Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.