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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
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‘Caged Women’ – Never Happened

There's no question that many of the backers of the Women of the Wall see the obliteration of Torah Judaism in public places in Israel as their ultimate goal.
WoWCage2

The Women of the Wall proved today that it’s not about the prayer, but about the politics.

While they were praying, they were also busy sending out tweets from the official Women of the Wall account (I guess they have some Kavana issues).

a horrible feeling. what a shanda to encage women at the kotel

what a frustrating, painful feeling. women in a cage at the Kotel.

When I heard, “women in a cage,” I rushed to check out the photos.

With a turn of phrase like that, I knew what I was expecting to see. Needless to say, I was disappointed, when it turned out to be nothing even close…

Let’s see what’s really going on.

Here they are at the main Kotel itself, being allowed to pray according to nearly any alternative lifestyle demands they have been promoting — with direct access to the wall at the plaza, so they can also touch the same section of the wall as everyone else can while they pray, and all the tourists can watch them.

WoWCage

Yet they are using SENSATIONALIST, exaggerated terminology, tweeting to the world that they were put in cages.

Put in cages!

At first I thought it was just them being whiny, but, you know what? It’s just straight out lying.

As you can see from their own photo, that it is not the case at all.

The women’s section has been divided by a standard police divider, so that part of the women’s section is designated for those women who want to pray in the traditional Jewish manner as they have been doing at the Kotel every day, and the other part dedicated to those who want to pray in their alternative fashion, wearing male accouterments, as they do once a month.

And since the Women of the Wall have been demanding to be allowed to pray at the main Kotel plaza in their non-traditional manner – and they were allowed to do so, this argument should pretty much be over.

But that obviously is not what the Women of the Wall want (that the argument should be over).

It’s not enough that they have forced their alternative method of prayer into the Kotel.

Here’s the truth of it, based on their own tweets.

They want to force their method of prayer onto to the other women at the Kotel too, including onto those who don’t want to pray that way – whether those women want it or not.

As part of their performance politics, the Women of the Wall are demanding that everyone else be subject to their methods of prayer, while they simultaneously prove that they won’t tolerate the way the other women (or men) at the Kotel want to hold their traditional prayers.

It’s a one way street for the Women of the Wall.

I am sure that within a month or two, they’ll get their way, too, and Orthodox (and non-Orthodox) women who want to pray undisturbed in the Jewish traditional manner will be made to feel very uncomfortable in their place of prayer.

And it won’t end there.

Because, as their tweets prove, this obviously isn’t about their wish to pray at the Kotel in a manner that deviates from tradition — after all, they’ve already won 95% of that (and I’m 100% convinced they’ll get permission to read from the Torah next month).

Next we’ll see petitions to the Supreme Court to completely remove the Mechitza, and allow egalitarian (mixed prayer) prayer groups.

How long until some IRAC-connected Reform rabbi demands to be allowed to play guitar on the Sabbath at the Kotel as he or she “traditionally” does in his or her Reform Temple?

This isn’t a battle about some women wanting to dress up as men like Yentyl and pray at the Kotel.

There’s no question that many of the backers of the Women of the Wall see the obliteration of Torah Judaism in public places in Israel as their ultimate goal.

The Kotel is just one of their battlefields, and the more SENSATIONAL they can make the battle sound, and the longer they can keep it going, the better it is for their camp.

About the Author: JoeSettler blogs at The Muqata.blogspot.com and occasionally on his own blog at JoeSettler.blogspot.com.


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29 Responses to “‘Caged Women’ – Never Happened”

  1. Brian Kent says:

    The best article yet! Kudos!

  2. Ingeborg Oppenheimer says:

    <<<There’s no question that many of the backers of the Women of the Wall see the obliteration of Torah Judaism in public places in Israel as their ultimate goal.>>> joe settler, with this statement you expose your own hidden agenda. you want to retain the undertanding of "torah judaism" as that which has over the centuries excluded women from the version of torah practice dictated by men. well, there is another way of undertanding torah judaism: the interpretation of god's commands as applying equally to women and men. these women are not looking to obliterate torah judaism; they are looking to be allowed to follow the dictates of torah judaism, and to participate, as have men over the centuries, via talmud and other writings, in explaining god's words in the torah.

  3. Ingeborg they can do that anywhere else. There is no objection for them to keep their customs in their places of worship, nor in the places they have been provided (two places) along this same Kotel. The objection is that they are bringing something so completely outside of the traditional consensus into the one place where we have always respected the traditional consensus and each other's ethnic rituals. The objection is that these women are using prayer, at their own admission, as a means to an end. What they want is the complete destruction of the religious infrastructure in Israel. This is politics, politics belongs at the Knesset and not at a place of holiness.

  4. Ingeborg Oppenheimer says:

    sorry, jenni, but you are missing the point: it's the "traditional consensus" as constructed by men, that these women are trying to reconstruct, not obliterate. the fact that there are haredi women within the group supports this assessment. also, they are not trying to destroy the religious infrastructure of israel; on the contrary, they are trying to strengthen israel's religious foundation by making it inclusive of all jews, not just the ultra-orthodox.

  5. Now who is using hyperbole? Even to the extent of lashon haRah… The wall is public domain. Each individual should be allowed to pray as they wish. Once you restrict that you are restricting freedom of speech. Also get your facts right! No woman is trying to impose her way upon other women. What is needed is tolerance of those who do things differently. If you do not want to hear or see someone else praying in a different manner than you are used to, then DO NOT GO TO A PUBLIC PLACE. Go to a private schul that does things just the way you like. Otherwise, grow up and become tolerant of diversity!

  6. Chaiya Eitan says:

    But not at the Kotel. It's like if at a dinner, some wanted non-kosher to be served…or some hechsher that not everyone follows. They want to pray in their own 'manner,' there are synagogues they can go to like Jenny Menashe said.

  7. Ingeborg Oppenheimer says:

    chaiya, precisely for the reason you state, the kotel is just the right place! to compare women praying at the kotel with eating tref is to perpetuate the distortions inherent in male-dominated torah interpretations. food laws apply to all, and no attempt is made to separate the genders for observance in that area, but there is such attempt made with regard to synagogue and kotel observance.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Ingeborg, for me, the issue is not the debate about what Judaism should be. It's about respecting "minhag hamakom" — the local tradition. Unfortunately, WoW are imposing their interpretation, however appealing you might find it, on a synagogue that has existed for hundreds of years. Yes, the Kotel is absolutely a synagogue, and it is an orthodox synagogue. True, the Muslim occupier banned the building of benches and mechitzas (dividers between men and women), but that ban didn't change the essence of the Kotel. It would be as if a group of Christians insisted on changing the traditions at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or if a modern Muslim group tried to change the traditions of the Qaaba in Mecca. I'm sorry, but it is flat out unethical to upset local tradition, and so brazenly. It betrays a self-centered approach to life, rather than the humility that is the true hallmark of all sincere religion.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Jadele, I'll just reiterate what I wrote above to Ingeborg. The Kotel is definitely NOT public domain. It is not some park. It is an orthodox synagogue that has existed for hundreds of years, with its own well-established customs and decorum. Wilfully ignoring the history of the Kotel is basically stealing it. There is something very ugly about the way WoW and their supporters covet what is not theirs, and force their ways on others. It's so ironic that they think they are "progressive", when they are majorly regressive, acting like the generation of the wilderness that didn't respect boundaries.

  10. This is one of the most ridiculous posts on this subject I've seen. Really? Half a post on the definition of "cage". News flash, it's perfectly normal usage for one to say they've been "caged" when they are merely segregated or isolated in some way.

    Secondly, what a bizarre overreach to say that just because these women don't want to be cordoned off that "proves" that "They want to force their method of prayer onto to the other women". So I guess the author feels that the sephardim who are free to roam on the mens' side are insipidly trying to "force their method of prayer" on all those unsuspecting Ashkenazim. Oh the humanity!

  11. Andrew Lillien says:

    >They want to force their method of prayer onto to the other women at the Kotel too, including onto those who don’t want to pray that way – whether those women want it or not.

    Simply untrue. While I don't agree with the WoW as a political entity, and I agree that "cage" is a loaded word, this statement is false.

  12. Ingeborg Oppenheimer says:

    abraham, were that humility you speak of felt by those who hold existing tradition – no matter how it impacts on jews as a whole – to be the only version of the almighty's wishes, we might not be having these conflicts. the tradition you are championing means nothing less than that women are unequal in the eyes of god to men. that, and only that, is what wow and its supporters are fighting against. the hallmark of true religion is mutual respect among all humans, not the championing of one gender's control over both genders.

  13. Actually it is one of the best, well explained, and to the point articles on this subject. The "cage" comment proves once and for all that these women do not care about the Kotel or prayer. This is is political statement. Theynwant to fundamentally change the fabric of Israeli life. They want it secular. Even Reform will go out the window once they have accomplished their goals. Don't the words "fundamentally change" fit the bil? This is another Leftist movement disguised as poor me the oppressed.l

  14. David Conley says:

    israeldailypicture.com/2012/05/ancient-pictures-of-western-wall.html shows old pictures of Kotel with women and men together. Notice the male hat in the background of picture titled "Devout Jewish women at the Wailing Wall" (circa 1900) and man in foreground of another one.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ingeborg, again you are debating how the religion should be. Personally, I too have many problems with chareidiism, and firmly believe that many of its views are antithetical to the Torah. However, I would never dream of entering a chareidi synagogue and telling them what to do or acting in a way that offends. Once I was in a chareidi shul and I was called to the Torah. I always wear a kippah, and not a small one, either. However, the Gabbai told me to "cover your head!", so I dutifully put the tallit over my head. For a moment I felt hurt, but then I realized that it would be far worse to make others feel uncomfortable when this was the local custom. Intellectually I see no reason for their stricture, but just as intellectually I know that the right thing to do is to follow local custom.

    At the Kotel, there is a huge range of personal beliefs. That's why it is so important that the basis for deciding how to behave be based on the existing custom, and not personal views. And really, why would anyone want to pray to the Creator knowing that simultaneously they are upsetting hundreds if not thousands of their coreligionists? WoW say "Why should we have to feel uncomfortable?" But the humble and morally correct path is to ask "Why should we publicly break the local customs that existed before we were born?"

    I do hope that the chareidim change their understanding of the role of women in Judaism, and even their view of the permissibility of women wearing tefillin in public. But the Kotel is not at all the appropriate place to challenge the chareidim.

  16. Françoise Siboni Michaelis says:

    If I understand, Accept the tyranny or it is the end of the world!

  17. the kosel is an open air orthodox synagogue replete with all the equipment staff and a hierarchy of rabbis…. the head rabbi does not approve of this… i dont go t a reform shull and start yelling about my right to have separate seating and then complain about getting "caged in"

  18. Ingeborg Oppenheimer being religious can only have meaning if there are standards that ultimately exclude someone…. i don't thing destroying the standard to include everyone is a good policy.

  19. Ingeborg Oppenheimer you dont want to force this on men you also want to force it on women too…. at the WOW meetings, orthodoxy women spit at these gender benders and curse them out. what about their say in this matter if a female consensus is what you want then i can show that the majority of shul going women dont agree with letting WOW meet

  20. Grace Acosta says:

    If the barricades were not in place, the WoW would be complaining that the police "failed to protect them." They'd be whining either way!

  21. Ingeborg Oppenheimer says:

    folks, i understand the concerns about hurting the feelings of all manner of traditionalists. but if that concern alone were to guide needed policy changes, here in the united states we would still have people with dark skins allowed only in the back of the bus and restaurants with signs saying "no negroes allowed." i don't know how to resolve the problem of discomfort with change; i just believe firmly that it has to be confronted on behalf of humane principles. and finally, i can't hold with a concept of god that includes a belief in heirarchy among his human creations with males at the top.

  22. They don't even keep the laws of the Torah they profess to love so much. It's agitprop of the worst kind and there is no defending it! If the media stopped coming they'd be devastated.

  23. I just love the liberal Jews definition of embracing diversity: "Do it our way or don't do it at all.."

  24. LOL!! That's a good one!

  25. Sarah Williams says:

    That's because when Jews tried to erect a mehitzah, the ruling powers tore it down in order to humiliate us, and the British under the guise of keeping the 'status quo' did the same thing.

  26. Sarah Williams says:

    "How long until some IRAC-connected Reform rabbi demands to be allowed to play guitar on the Sabbath at the Kotel as he or she “traditionally” does in his or her Reform Temple?" Not too long….in the euphoria following the court's most recent ruling, there was a post by one enthusiastic man asking when the egalitarian section could be completed so they could arrange services there, complete with guitars….if anyone thinks this is about empowering women instead of sticking it to the orthodox (not just haredim), they're delusional.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Hi Ingeborg. Your mention of segregated buses and restaurants underscores my point, because neither represents a religious institution. MLK never argued that white and black churches need cease to exist, and indeed they still exist today. Likewise, the Kotel is not a bus, and therefore local tradition should prevail, just as it does in the churches of the U.S. For more on the popularity of "Segregated Sundays", see this CNN article: http://edition.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/08/04/segregated.sundays/index.html

    And now a question for you. Why is it that with Leftists, regarding our enemies they always speak of making painful concessions to keep the peace, but regarding fellow Jews, they speak of confrontation in the defense of ideals?

  28. Ingeborg Oppenheimer says:

    oy, avraham, your bringing in leftist jews who operate with horse blinders mangles the argument beyond repair; that issue is so far away from what is being discussed here. as for the racism behind separate seating of afro-americans, may i remind you that the kkk used cross-burning to get their message across? so much for religion not being part of that package!

  29. Actually it seems you should be studying your history wall. What you allege is wishful thinking not the reality of the history. Think Jordanians. Think liberation pictures. Plus hundreds of years ago there were no divisions of orthodox vs any other kind.

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