Women of the Wall has gotten a lot of press in recent years. The group claims to be a non-partisan collective of women from different streams of Judaism who just want to pray at the Western Wall; the holiest site in traditional Judaism.
The reality is seemingly more complex.
Women of the Wall is organizationally intertwined with the Israel Religious Action Center, the World Union of Progressive Judaism and the New Israel Fund.
WOW’s director, Lesley Sachs was the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center. Its chairwoman Anat Hoffman is the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center.
When an organization is run by the directors of another organization, it’s reasonable to question whether they aren’t really the same organization.
Women of the Wall solicits local donations to “Women of the Wall, P. O. Box 31936, Jerusalem, 91319, Israel”
The Israel Religious Action Center solicits donations to “Israel Religious Action Center P.O.B. 31936 Jerusalem, 91319 Israel”
It would appear that not only is Women of the Wall run by IRAC leaders, but that they share a post office box.
Leora Bechor, another board member, appears to be a staff attorney at the Israel Religious Action Center. Additionally Leora Bechor appears to have worked/be working for a number of militantly anti-Israel NGOs, some funded by the New Israel Fund, including Hamoked where material bearing her name denounces the “the unilateral and illegal annexation of East Jerusalem”.
In Women of the Wall propaganda, Bechor is described as Orthodox, but her work for the IRAC raises some questions about that. And her hostility toward the Jewish presence in Jerusalem raises some questions about the credibility of her concern about praying at the Western Wall.
Batya Kallus, the second-in-command at WOW, helps fund anti-Israel groups through her work with the Fohs Foundation and the Moriah Fund. Both Fohs and Moriah fund the New Israel Fund. Moriah also funds the Israel Religious Action Center.
The New Israel Fund in turn funds Women of the Wall. Not only is WOW a grantee, but its website invites donors to send donations to it directly to the New Israel Fund.
Meanwhile the Israel Religious Action Center invites donors to send money through the World Union of Progressive Judaism. The director of Women of the Wall is also the former Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center and Vice President of the World Union For Progressive Judaism.
Its only other staff member, Shria Pruce, its director of public relations, also worked for the World Union For Progressive Judaism and the New Israel Fund.
Shira Pruce has written a defensive post claiming that Women of the Wall is “non-partisan” and ” diverse”. “We are left and right and center.”
There isn’t a lot of center or right in WOW’s leadership, but there is a lot of left. More specifically there are repeated ties to three organizations, one of which Women of the Wall shares a mailing address and leadership with.
It might be best if Women of the Wall came clean about its interconnections with the Israel Religious Action Center and the New Israel Fund because it looks a lot like WOW is acting as a non-partisan front for some very partisan and not particularly diverse organizations.