I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

26 December 2012

The Girl Effect, Part 25, Women of the Wall revisited

Women of the Wall Logo

By now you know, issues concerning The Women of the Wall tends to be a popular topic with me. (see this post and this post for background) I have little ability to not speak up when I hear or see injustices in daily life, and this is one of those issues of great injustice for our sisters who wish to pray at the Kotel in Israel.

Women were again arrested on the 14th of this month, and I only heard about it recently. Below is the story of the arrests and the forthcoming news that action is now being taken to change the laws to allow individuals who are not Orthodox to have more leeway at the wall.

Eighty-eight women and 50 men went to the Kotel with Women of the Wall for Rosh Chodesh prayer, said the organization’s chair, Anat Hoffman, in an interview with the Sisterhood. At the security checkpoint, police told women that their tallitot and other ritual objects would be confiscated. Most complied.

But Rabbi Elyse Frishman and a few others wearing tallitot around their necks under winter coats just zipped them up and passed through the checkpoint.
December 14, 2012 The Forward: Four Women Detained at Kotel For Wearing Tallit

We gathered quietly at the rear of the Western Wall to pray. One woman came over to me and asked quietly, “May I stand with you and pray? I wanted to wear my prayer shawl, but I’m afraid.”

Two police officers walked over. One said in Hebrew, “You are not allowed to wear the prayer shawl.” Pretending, I said politely in English, “Excuse me, I do not understand.”
December 25,2012 - Fighting for Freedom at the Western Wall
Two young British women have been arrested in Jerusalem after participating in a Women of the Wall religious rights protest.

...are currently on RSY-Netzer’s Israel gap-year programme, were arrested on Friday during morning prayers...
December 14, 2012 - RSY girls arrested in Women of the Wall protest
The first woman detained, Women of the Wall board member Rachel Cohen Yeshurun, refused to remove her tallit as she entered the Western Wall Plaza, far from the holy site itself. She was removed and interrogated, under the accusation of disturbing the public order and obstructing a police procedure.
December 14, 2012 - EJewish Philanthropy - New Decree at the Western Wall Places Further Limits on Women’s Freedom

Jewish group claims new decree was issued Friday morning, forbidding women from entering the plaza with Jewish holy articles, tallit and tefilin; World Union for Progressive Judaism calls for third prayer section at Western Wall where men and women can pray together.
December 15, 2012 Haaretz Daily - Four Women of the Wall arrested amid 'escalation of restrictions' on Jewish women's rights

THE CAMPAIGN of the Women of the Wall is an interesting one. ... There is a notion that Hoffman and others have a “right” to do as they please at the Kotel. The argument is that the Kotel belongs in some way to all the Jewish people and since not all Jews pray the same way, therefore all types of prayer should be allowed.

But this poses a fundamental issue that all open societies face; when does one person’s rights infringe on another’s?
December 18, 2012 Jerusalem Post - Terra Incognita: Liberating the Wall from Whom?
After a period of calm, the past six months have witnessed a genuine escalation in tensions between women who come to pray at the Western Wall and the Wall’s chief rabbi and police. Last Friday, members of the group Women of the Wall were arrested in the third such incident in three months.
December 18, 2012 Haaretz Daily - Closing in on Women at the Wall

My plea to Women of the Wall and those who actively support them is to declare victory” and “consecrate” Robinson’s Arch “as a place of prayer,” Klein Halevi said. “This is an unprecedented opportunity.” ...
Sabath Beit-Halachmi compared his proposal to accepting segregation’s obligation to sit at the back of the bus “because the air conditioning is better.” Women of the Wall members don’t want more separation, she said. Instead, there is a time-sharing proposal currently being discussed with the office of Israel’s prime minister that would permit Orthodox prayer customs on certain days and egalitarian prayer customs on others.
December 19, 2012 The Jewish Daily Forward - Is Kotel Alternative Women's Back of the Bus?

They were arrested because they were praying to God the way they could, the way that felt meaningful to them. They were arrested for disrupting the peace, when those who taunted them loudly and even physically attacked them by throwing plastic chairs at them were allowed to stay.
...I wonder why these women, who make up the group Women of the Wall, are singled out over and over again by the police.
December 19, 2012 The Times of Israel - Hypocrisy at the Kotel
What kind of Jewish state we have built when women worshipers at the Western Wall face spitting, cursing and arrests? The ongoing breach of human rights in Israel, especially for Jewish women, demands a clear response by Israel's political leadership.
December 20, 2012  Haaretz Daily - Arresting women praying at the Wall is not a matter of faith but of power and politics

Women of the Wall will continue to fight, not only for reclaiming the Kotel as public space, but also for all the other issues of religious pluralism in Israel that are so important. We will continue to speak truth to power, raising our voices and our prayers to challenge the Orthodox monopoly on issues of personal status: marriage, divorce, burial and conversion, and to work for parity in government funding for non Orthodox religious and educational institutions and for recognition of liberal rabbis. And we will continue to act on our conviction that there is more than one way to be a Jew.
December 21, 2012 Huffington Post - Women at the Wall: Wrapped in Light Like a Garment
Women of the Wall spokeswoman Shira Pruce said she believes the police are merely trying to intimidate the activists ("If they wanted to press criminal charges, they would have done that by now"). Still, she does urge those who want to show solidarity, particularly younger women from abroad, to understand there are risks involved in acts of civil disobedience. "What concerns us is that they may end up having problems with their visa and lose their right to be in Israel," noted Pruce. "That is why I tell them that if they do not want to be detained, they should not wear a tallit."
December 21, 2012 Haaretz Daily Overseas student programs reeling from Western Wall arrests

 While more than 60 percent of Jews in the United States identify with the Reform or Conservative movements, where women and men have equal standing in prayer and many feminists have adopted ritual garments, in Israel it is one in 10.

...“It’s embarrassing for Israel, it’s embarrassing for Jews, and the American Jewish community is beginning to understand that it’s a slippery slope here.”
December 23, 2012 The New York Times - At Western Wall, a Divide over Prayer Deepens
Amid outrage across the Jewish diaspora over Israel’s flurry of recent arrests of women seeking to pray at the Western Wall with ritual garments – in defiance of Israeli law — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Jewish Agency, to study the issue and suggest ways to make the site more accommodating to all Jews.
The move comes after more than two decades of civil disobedience by a group called Women of the Wall ...

December 25, 2012 The New York Times - Israel to Review Curbs on Women’s Prayer at Western Wall

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you've been praying - please keep knocking on the doors of heaven. Because it looks like we're finally being heard.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know anything about this issue before this. Thanks for writing about it.