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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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Thousands of Orthodox Women to Mix with WOW at the Kotel

Yes, they've won a battle, a long one at that—but the war is far from over.

Thousands of seminary students have been encourage to "join" the Women of the Wall in their Rosh Chodesh prayers.

Thousands of seminary students have been encourage to "join" the Women of the Wall in their Rosh Chodesh prayers.
Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90

Tomorrow, Friday, is Rosh Chodesh Sivan (six more shopping days until Shavuos), and as they have done every Rosh Chodesh, the Women of the Wall have announced that they’ll meet y’all at the women’s section of the Kotel. Except this time around they’re doing it with judicial sanction, following two decisions—one of them after a dead-in-the-water appeal by police—of Jerusalem courts that the ladies’ prayer, with tallit and tefillin, does not constitute a violation of the public order.

Which means they won’t be arrested, as has been the case for some 25 years. And if anyone dare yell at them, or spit, or tell them they’re going to hell in a decorative tallis bag – they, the WOW opponents would likely be cuffed and detained by the men and women in black.

Yes, they’ve won a battle, a long one at that—but the war is far from over.

On Tuesday, as Kikar Hashabbat reported, United Torah Judaism MKs held a special meeting with the deans and principals of the major Orthodox women’s seminaries in Israel, and it was decided to initiate a central prayer service at the Kotel, with, possibly, thousands of seminary students, as they put it: in response to the provocation by the Women of the Wall.

A senior UTJ source told Kikar Hashabbat that they’re not looking to create a counter provocation, only to prove to all the people of Israel that kosher Jewish women are the true women of the Wall, who pray and supplicate by the Kotel year-round, not just on Rosh Chodesh, and not to start riots.

There’s probably a secret place in a dungeon under some Casbah, where all the press officers for all the different organizations in the world can meet late at night and critique each other’s self righteous lies. This one probably wins a big, free drink next meeting…

Just in case, during the Knesset debate of the WOW V. WOW extravaganza, a representative the Police Department said that—in keeping with the recent Magistrate Court order, the police would protect the Women of the Wall from harm.

Take that, other Women of the Wall!

On Thursday, the day before Rosh Chodesh, it turns out that several Haredi leaders, including, most prominently, Maran Aharon Leib Shteinman, widely regarded as the Gadol Hador for Lithuanians, have determined that thousands of seminary students may leave home early Friday morning for a heartfelt prayer at the plaza by the “remnant of our Temple, the Western Wall.”

Meanwhile, a contingency of Orthodox “Women for the Wall” announced that they, too, are coming at 6:30 AM—best way to get a good spot at this point—to pray and recite Psalms “for the sake of Israel and against the greatest threats to the Torah and Judaism born by the Women of the Wall.”

Their initiative has won the support of two prominent National Religious religious Zionist rabbis: Rabbi Dov Lior and Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu—provided they agree to abstain from violence.

Anyone who uses the words “cat” and “fight” in the comments below this report gets a stern warning for sure…

“We just want to pray quietly and with kavanah (deliberately),” Ronit Peskin, director of “Women for Wall,” told Srugim. “Women need to pray and demonstrate that they could set an example, without reacting to their screaming and provocative behavior.”

She stressed that every woman must come with full intention of sanctifying God in every part of her manner and prayers.

Shira Pruce, Director of Public Relations for then original Women of the Wall told The Jewish Press that she was honored and delighted for having inspired so many thousands of women to come and pray at the Kotel on Rosh Chodesh.

“If women of the Wall has inspired thousands of women to come to the Kotel, Amen V’amen,” she said.

Which was the quote I was hoping for, naturally.

In fact, in the spirit of peace and mutual respect, the WOW leadership has acquiesced this one time only to obey the police instructions and not bring out a Torah scroll to their event. Apparently, according to the cops’ psak, it’s fine for women to wear tallit and teffilin, but it violates something terrible if they dare hold up a Torah.

The Gemara and the Shulchan Aruch state that women are allowed to have an aliyah, which in earlier times meant that they would be reading alloud from the text – but we don’t keep this halacha in a congregation with both men and women for a variety of technical reasons. But in a women-only congregation there shouldn’t be a problem with women’s “laining,” as is the case in many modern Orthodox shuls in America and in Israel. And women’s Megillah reading has become a tradition in many congregations as well.

Still, I blessed Shira Pruce that tomorrow would, indeed, be a day of inspiration and love of God. Perhaps these thousands of women will teach the rest of us a lesson in getting along.

“Nichyeh v’nir’eh,” Pruce said – We’ll live and see.

Yori Yanover

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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