It’s starting again, like it does every month, for the Women of the Kotel – can you feel the excitement? “Rosh Hodesh Av at the Kotel 2013” is coming, says their email invitation (mind you, it’s not Av, 5773—too complicated), July 8, at 7:00 AM.
The month of Av, when two temples were burned down to the ground – how very appropriate.
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We want to do our utmost to ensure everyone a safe and meaningful prayer at the Kotel.
Well, not everyone, of course, because, judging by last months complaints from non-WOW Jerusalemites, public bus service to the Kotel that goes through Haredi neighborhoods will be suspended until mid-day. It won’t be official, it would just be a quiet arrangement between cops and the bus company—allegedly.
Now the scoop, which should send a thrill through the delicate spines of all the WOW ladies: “Women of the Wall gear up for the next struggle: Reading Torah at the Kotel.”
It’s Revolutionary techniques 101: every time you reach a goal – start looking for the next one. A revolution that runs out of provocative goals to achieve might as well fold up the barricades and go home.
Also, a revolution that stops in its tracks won’t be doing so good on the fund raising front. Ya gotta remember the bottom line.
So, after receiving permission from two lower courts to pray while clad in talitot and teffilin by the Kotel, men and women together, and after it became clear that neither the police nor the AG had the stomach for an appeal to the high court, you’d think the WOW would rejoice and give thanks to their Father or Mother in Heaven and sing out a great Rosh Chodesh Hallelujah.
No such luck. Now they need to unfold a Torah scroll out there, in the open air by the Kotel, and endow everyone in the plaza with their lovely voices.
Thank God, the Rosh Chodesh reading is relatively short. The predictable Haredi screaming will eventually die down, the WOW will once again appear victorious compared to those uncouth haters. So, you understand why it is absolutely essential that, after all these many months of not reading the Torah in the open, now it must be done.
They wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and are urging their supporters to send a copy to him:
Shalom, It is with great respect and love for the State of Israel that we write today. The lack of freedom for women at the Western Wall simply cannot continue. Women in Israel deserve full and equal rights, including freedom of religion and expression at the Western Wall. For 24 years Women of the Wall have prayed and struggled for their full freedom of religion at the Western Wall. The women have cooperated with police and the courts. Women of the Wall have been full partners in each of the government committees that have been appointed throughout the years, especially the most recent committees headed by Natan Sharansky and now, Tzvi Hauser. In April 2013, the District Court of Jerusalem reestablished the legality of women’s prayer at the Kotel in Judge Sobel’s decision that the prayer of Women of the Wall in no way violates the law or disturbs the peace. He declared that the local custom of the Western Wall should be defined by the most pluralist, inclusive terms. Yet despite the women’s cooperation and the court’s assurances, a regulation from July 2010 written by ultra-Orthodox Rabbi and Authority of the Western Wall and Holy Places Shmuel Rabinowitz, prohibits men and women from entering the Kotel Plaza with a torah, thus permanently denying all women access to a Torah Scroll. This regulation reminds Jews worldwide of the very dark days in Jewish history when we were forbidden to pray, read and study Torah. It is inconceivable that in 2013 in Israel Jewish women are refused access to the Torah at a public holy site in Israel. We ask that you intervene immediately to guarantee women from all over the world and Israel the full equal rights at the Western Wall. B’chavod Rav (With deep respect)…
In other words, this is a letter of complaint to the PM, about the ruling of one of his civil servants, the rabbi of the Kotel, who wouldn’t let them bring a Sefer Torah into the plaza. What they’re asking for is that the PM pick up the phone to his employee and order him to right away rescind his regulation. Otherwise…
Otherwise it would be just like those dark times in our history, when Jews were not allowed to pray, read and study the Torah.
If they were to raise their eyes from the wall right in front of them, to the other, higher plaza just 20 feet or so above their heads, they could be treated to the sight of a place where Jews right now, are not allowed not just to bring a Sefer Torah, but if they’re suspected of praying, immediately the cops are called in to grab them off the site.
The WOW have nothing to say about that. They see no similarity between their case, where they’ve twisted the arm of the law, with the glad hearted collaboration of two lower court judges – and the case of the complete prohibition on Jewish prayer by men, women and children on the Temple Mount.
Wanna’ do something subversive? Here’s what I did:
I went to their petition page, entered my personal data, and replaced their text with the highlighted text below. I also changed the subject to: Please Let Jews Pray on Temple Mount.
Mr. Prime Minister, please don’t allow patriotic Jews to be humiliated by the Arabs who rule the Temple Mount with your permission. Please let us pray there, in the areas that are halakhically permitted, and if need be please provide us with police protection as equal citizens of your country.
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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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