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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Women of the Wall Protesting Bennett’s High Holidays Plan

"Today this affects Women of the Wall but tomorrow it will affect every Israeli and Jew around the world…."
There's no God over here, God is around the corner, where the Haredim are davening… WOW chair Anat Hoffman speaking to the press after saying no to the Bennett Plan to build a prayer area outside the Kotel plaza but still adjacent to the Kotel.

There's no God over here, God is around the corner, where the Haredim are davening… WOW chair Anat Hoffman speaking to the press after saying no to the Bennett Plan to build a prayer area outside the Kotel plaza but still adjacent to the Kotel.
Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

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Minister of Religious Services Naftali Bennett announced on Sunday his support for the Mendelblit plan, drawn by the Prime Minister’s Office’s committee charged with the task of solving the problem of “inequality” at the Western Wall.

The committee is promoting a solution that utilizes a wooden balcony which has been built on scaffolding in the middle of Robinson’s Arch, near the Western Wall. The new section will permit mixed prayers of men and women and will be dubbed “Israel section.”

Women of the Wall are complaining that the plan will “effectively exile women and all Jews who pray in a way that is not ultra-Orthodox tradition to Robinson’s Arch and away from the area of the Western Wall where Jews have prayed for generations.”

According to WOW, should the new plan be executed, the government will be excluding more 50% of Jewish population to the “back of the bus.”

That’s a bit of a stretch, of course, since the majority of Israeli women feel quite comfortable in the women’s section – on those rare occasions when they show up at prayer services.

The new mixed prayer area outside the Kotel plaza in Jerusalem. Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The new mixed prayer area outside the Kotel plaza in Jerusalem. Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

“Women of the Wall rejects the Mendelblit plan which dangerously circumvents the pluralist Sobel Disctrict Court decision,” WOW declared on Sunday. “We are at a crossroads for religious freedom and freedom of expression in Israel. Today this affects Women of the Wall but tomorrow it will affect every Israeli and Jew around the world. What has been proven today is that the bullies were victorious—with their assault, spitting and cursing at women. Mendelblit and Bennett have given in to the threats and violence of the Haredi extremist minority in Israel and this is a dangerous precedent for our democracy.”

WOW complain that, according to the proposed plan, the wooden stage erected at the center of the archaeological visitor’s center “is concerning only mixed prayer, and therefore does not provide a solution for Women of the Wall, a mixed women’s prayer section.”

An email they sent out Sunday contends that “The plan leaves control over the entire area in the hands of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, an organization run by a vast majority ultra-Orthodox men. The stage is in no way equal topographically or geographically to the original plaza, nor does it come close to the Wall itself, as it stands to the back of the Robinson’s Arch area. This plan is the very definition of separate, and not nearly close to equal, it provides an out of sight- out of mind solution silencing women at the Western Wall.”

The argument is strangely familiar, reminiscent of Jewish complaints about how the Jordanian Waqf has been controlling the Temple Mount – but any attempt to solicit from WOW an expression of empathy for Jews on the Mount have been met with staunch denial of similarity…

When all else is lost, WOW are appealing to the one true supporter they have in the current government – you guessed it:

“We call upon Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni to reject this plan, to demand equal rights for women to pray at the women’s section of the Western Wall. Women of the Wall is calling for a 24 hour sit-in at the Western Wall in the hopes that the government will reject this plan and support the District Court Decision in which all women can pray freely at the Western Wall.”

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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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47 Responses to “Women of the Wall Protesting Bennett’s High Holidays Plan”

  1. David Blatt says:

    I don’t see why the Scharansky Plan giving these brave women set times at the Kotel couldn’t be implemented.

  2. LOVED the caption under the picture about God being around the corner. It made me laugh out loud.

    Plus, what's "ultra" Orthodox about the davening at the Kotel, as opposed to jus' plain old orthodox? I find Artscroll and Koren siddurim all over the place at the Kotel, with English translation for all kinds of amaratism like me, though there probably aren't so many of those in charedi shuls (at least the Korens).

  3. Jay Padgug says:

    Are you attempting to report the facts — or the facts with your own specific point of view? Your final snipe at Tzipi Livni and the Women of the Wall doesn't square with objective journalism.

  4. I think it's a great idea to involve Livni. Get her away from these potentially diastrous "peace talks". Yes, Tzipi Livni, who probably couldn't even find the Shema in a siddur using WAZE….

  5. mydogpeter says:

    As an American Jewish man with very strong emotional ties to Israel, it is time, once and for all, for the Israeli government to stop in and accede to the wishes – and needs – its its Jewish women. They are our dearest friends, our Mothers, Sisters, and Wives.  ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!!!!!


  6. truthseekr says:

    As an Israeli Jewish woman who likes to pray privately at the Kotel by myself, & as a traditionalist trying to obey G-d, I’m very offended by the WOW & their talking as if they represent all women. It’s bad enough they want to usurp the men’s G-d-given roles as public worship leaders at the Temple, but now they put G-d in a box by stating that He only lives in one spot at the Kotel! Good grief, this is so ludicrous. So they want to get in G-d’s face & go against His word by acting & dressing like men, & they’re not afraid of G-d’s judgment on that? Equal rights? Where’s the humility & respect at the most holy place in the world? When the Temple comes, are they going to insist on equal rights to function as Cohenim too? It’s fine to have an Egalitarian place for the bar/bat mitzvahs of the masorti etc., but women do not need their own space so they can make a spectacle of themselves competing with men. If they really sincerely want to do this, they can go in the room on the women’s side that is next to the Kotel. Why the need to be in the public eye? I submit that it has nothing to do with G-d, but everything to do with pride.

  7. truthseekr says:

    Your post showed up after I posted my above message, but I want you to know that just because this group of maybe 100 women is the loudest and most obnoxious, they in no way reflect the wishes of most Israeli women. They are only doing this out of pride, and it’s so against Torah. I am disgusted by their egotistical behavior..

  8. Sarah Williams says:

    WoW complains that "the plan will “effectively exile women and all Jews who pray in a way that is not ultra-Orthodox tradition to Robinson’s Arch" Not at all–the majority of religious Jews in Israel are not ultra-Orthodox but also traditional and modern orthodox/dati leumi who also pray by the norms of traditional Judaism…the only people being "exiled" are people who wish to pray in American Conservative/Reform in contradiction to normative Jewish traditions.

  9. on tv tonight we watched anat cursing the place they were given to pray at. its closer to the temple than the big kotel and is a more holy site….. and this so called holy woman is cursing this holy site because she wants to get seen on tv performing.if she had any interest in spirituality she would be thrilled to be able to pray there,its a very holy place, but damn its smaller and less tv can get there to film her showing of with her friends

  10. Dan Silagi says:

    If it's a more holy site than the Kotel, why don't you and the rest of W4W pray at Robinson's Arch and let WOW and everyone else who wishes to pray at the Kotel? One other minor detail: This plan flies in the face of the recent court decision of the Jerusalem District Court.

  11. Dan Silagi says:

    Bennett can build a monument to Ba'al at Robinson's Arch. But neither he nor anyone else can legally stop the Women of the Wall from praying at the Kotel in the manner they see fit. That right was won in court, and upheld.

  12. Michael Gordon says:

    because these “brave” women do not want accommodations, they want to bring down the orthodox controlled rabbinate. I think their reaction is a slap in the face of truly brave Jew, Natan Sharansky.

  13. Rivka Miller says:

    It seems obvious that these women are not interested in a solution. They want to target the orthodox as women haters.

  14. Yechiel Baum says:

    If they state that Hashem is around the corner, then they have no idea of the abilities of Hashem to be everywhere and their goal is to show the world the division of the Jews and their WOW true disbelief in Hashem.

  15. So much fuss over a wall built by the evil Herod whose mother was not even Jewish which according to you means he was not Jewish. For 19 years we wailed because the Arabs kept the Jews from praying at the Wall. But we have made progress. Now we have Jews keeping other Jews from praying at the Wall (unless they pray in the manner of 17th century Poles).

  16. Tova Bar-chaim says:

    if you don't like the Torah and Mesorah handed down from generation to generation starting from after crossing the red sea when the women gathered around Miriam seperate from the men and you choose to reject Hashem's laws and decrees as irrelevant to to the 21st century then who are you praying to and for what purpose? who are you exactly? what does it matter where and what….if you can arbitrarily make changes what's the diference? One more thing why are the people who have been adhering to tradition the bullies why do you not see yourselves as usurpers and bullies and manipulators?

  17. Eva Feld says:

    Want to know the REAL TRUTH why God gave us the Torah? He knew that would mess it up really good and we didn't fail Him in any way. Even when He told us specifically that the Torah is for everyone, every man, woman, young and old and the stranger among us. God is having a really good time on our account.

    Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/women-of-the-wall-protesting-bennetts-high-holidays-plan/2013/08/25/#cf5_field_5.

  18. So thousands of people who come to the Kotel should move to accommodate the few that are spitting on Jewish tradition that goes back thousands of years?

  19. You are naive if you think this is about prayer. This is about forcing their feminist views, which are contrary to the Torah, on the rest of us.

  20. Dan Silagi says:

    I totally agree with you in one regard. It's about forcing one's views on others. But not in the way you say, but about forcing YOUR Torah views on other Jews, and this relates to many issues other than prayer. I totally reject that, and for that matter, your Torah.

  21. Dan Silagi says:

    The ones "spitting" are the vile Haredim who believe theirs is the one true path to salvation, and yes, hypocrite, they're spitting on the WOW. You and your ilk are no better than the Taliban.

  22. Benjamin Fox says:

    What can I say? Eve first failed, Adam, blamed the women, she blamed the snake but either way it is what some believe and to start a fight over it is really stupid. The man is the one God hold responsible for the up bringing of the child, not the women anywhere in the Torah, so why should he lead, because God first created Adam and Eve from him. It is simple when thought out according to Torah or does God lie?

  23. mydogpeter says:

    The day this problem is solved will be the day that all Israel will breathe a huge sigh of relief!.  May it be soon.  It’s time for ALL Jews, not just men, to worship at the wall.  G-d didn’t say “only SOME PEOPLE…”
    Besides, ya’ wouldn’t let yer’ own MOTHER worship at the Wall?  How about somebody ELSE’S MOTHER?
    Have you forgotten:  it’s the MOTHER who determines the religion of the child, NOT THE FATHER –  DESPITE ALL THE BLUSTERING TO THE CONTRARY NOTWITHSTANDING!!!!!
    Now can we get on with the important things and stop the in-fighting over this??

  24. I didn't realize there was a competition to be the wicked son in the Haggadah. "What is all this to YOU"? I have news for you. Judaism comes from the Torah, not the likes of Anat Hoffman.

  25. Earl W. Littlefield Jr says:

    Mighty small "god" she panders with if he doesn't even reach around the corner. She doesn't want near our Lord, she wants to stir insurrection among those who do worship.

  26. Justa Ju says:

    mydogpeter – As soon as we get to pray on Temple Mount, they can have the entire plaza plus the peanuts concession.

  27. Dan Silagi says:

    Anat Hoffman represents the highest ideals of Judaism; those of equality, fairness, and standing up for one's rights. You, on the other hand, claim you stand for the Torah. In every religion, there are those who claim to be speaking for God. You come from a long line of those who take the Lord's name in vain.

  28. Dan Silagi says:

    Anat Hoffman represents the highest ideals of Judaism; those of equality, fairness, and standing up for one's rights. You, on the other hand, claim you stand for the Torah. In every religion, there are those who claim to be speaking for God. You come from a long line of those who take the Lord's name in vain.

  29. Dan Silagi says:

    God doesn't lie. He has plenty of humans who'll lie in his stead. Like you, troll.

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