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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Women of the Wall Relish Victory, Won’t Support Temple Mount Prayer

"Our struggle is only about the Kotel."

Practice makes perfect… A WOW worshipper at the Kotel having a hard time getting those straps to line up. Where's a Chabadnik when you need one?

Practice makes perfect… A WOW worshipper at the Kotel having a hard time getting those straps to line up. Where's a Chabadnik when you need one?
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90

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The Jewish Press just received a press release from Women of the Wall, declaring (gloating, actually) that in light of the District Court decision on April 24, and after 24 years of monthly prayers at the Western Wall (Kotel), “Women of the Wall will return to the holy site to pray with Torah, tefillin (phylacteries) and tallit (prayer shawl) on Rosh Hodesh Sivan, May 10.”

The WOW add: “It is with great pride that the women, from diverse Jewish backgrounds, adopt the important ruling by Judge Moshe Sobel, and join for this joyous occasion.”

“It’s about equal rights and democracy,” WOW Director of Public Relations Shira Pruce told The Jewish Press. “The Western Wall is not an Ultra Orthodox synagogue. It’s a public space. What the judge declared is that you cannot tell women not to pray a certain way in this public space.”

Expect the Wall site is administered by an Ultra Orthodox rabbi, who is a government official.

“That does not make it an Ultra Orthodox synagogue, which would make it a private place” argues Pruce. “It’s not a private place. Does he (Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the ‘Kotel Rabbi’) oversee it? Yes. But in our petition, which has been endorsed by many organizations, including some Orthodox groups, we made it clear that the site has been mismanaged.”

The March 10 online petition, which will eventually be sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky, states, among other things:

The Torah teaches us to love one another and our neighbors. Subjecting women to verbal and physical abuse, detention and threat of prosecution for simply exercising their human right to worship fosters a generation of Jews for whom Israel and the Kotel Plaza are associated with fear and religious intolerance.

Speaking of exercising the human right to worship, this reporter mentioned the nearby other holy site, a mere 20 feet or so above WOW’s area of contention—the Temple Mount—where Jews are forbidden to pray and are removed by police sometimes when they just close their eyes and start whispering, even if they’re just doing math.

I asked Pruce if she saw a connection between the plight of the women not being allowed to pray at the Kotel and the plight of Jews in general not being allowed to pray, and often even to visit, the Temple Mount.

“There is no connection, as far as we are concerned” she answered emphatically. “There’s no comparison between the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. I understand that people want to jump on the wave of Women of the Wall, to advance other political agendas. But ours is a struggle for women’s equal rights, religious freedom—civil rights that women do not have and men do have, in a public site that Israel has and oversees and runs. Temple Mount is not even comparable. It’s not relevant, it’s apples and oranges.”

This reporter suggested it was more like comparing Granny apples to Delicious apples (which is pretty brilliant, if you read it a second time). But Pruce insisted strongly that it is apples and oranges.

“We’re talking about a completely different political reality. Our struggle is and always has been at the Western Wall. Because of what it represents to us, religiously, culturally, spiritually, and to the world at large. to the Jewish people internationally, who could not speak up about it, and who now have found their voice about it.

“Our struggle is only about the Kotel.”

Of course, the aspirations of Jews throughout the past 2500 years or so have not been to go daven outside the rear supporting wall of God’s Temple, but rather way up there, where God’s House actually used to stand – but once you acknowledge that, you probably turn off three quarters of your support on the left. And so, for the record, WOW’s position is a case of severe official myopia regarding any other group who might be blocked from prayer literally 20 feet away.

Regarding Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky’s suggestion to, essentially, erect a permanent Reform synagogue at the Robinson’s Arch part of the site, the press release says “Women of the Wall share great respect and appreciation” for “his thoughtful, good faith effort to find a resolution to the conflict at the Kotel. We recognize the significance of this plan for an egalitarian section at the Kotel and commend all those who worked tirelessly together to reach an agreement that respects the great diversity of Jews in Israel and abroad,” but…

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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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10 Responses to “Women of the Wall Relish Victory, Won’t Support Temple Mount Prayer”

  1. Yadira Gomez Corpus says:

    Shalom… Elohim YAHWEH Tzebaoth is making judgments to the whole world, as Hoshea prophet said: "my people is loosing by lack of knowledge", so is now happining with these rebel women. Shalom U Brajot.

  2. This is an absolute DISGRACE for the court particularly in Israel to SPIT IN THE FACE OF TORAH LAW goes beyond contemptible. It does guarantee in 60 years or so when Orthodox Jews are an absolute majority that these idiots will lose it all and be thrown out completely as they deserve.

  3. Chaiya Eitan says:

    After reading her comment, I have lost all respect for them. Of coourse there is a connection!

  4. Yori Yanover says:

    Chaiya Eitan · To be fair, I kind of led her there to see if she could accept the validity of another group's struggle. She didn't go there on her own. But I think I was fair and honest in presenting her double standard.

  5. Yori Yanover says:

    Chaiya Eitan · To be fair, I kind of led her there to see if she could accept the validity of another group's struggle. She didn't go there on her own. But I think I was fair and honest in presenting her double standard.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Maybe equal right for cats as well? What counts at the Kotel is Torah law not democracy and equal rights. Reformists stay in the U.S where you have already caused over 50% intermariage rates. This is proof your cause is wrong. Wake up- you are destroying good things. This is not feminism- but destruction. Its causing gentile women being born from intermariage. It goes against your beliefs. you are mixed up- only G-d knows the proper path- and that the Torah.

  7. Gil Gilman says:

    Apparently visibility is all they care about, too bad they aren't in ancient Babylon where that was an important statement, rather than in Jerusalem where such visibility with empty utterance is useless.

  8. Dan Silagi says:

    So women wearing a tallis and reciting Kaddish at the Western Wall will somehow lead to intermarriage? Not that I have any problem with marrying out — I did so myself — but one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. You need to take a refresher course in basic logic.

    As for equal rights for cats go, I see no problem with our two kitty cats — one's male, one's female — praying together at the Kotel, paw in paw.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I'm a modern Orthodox Israeli American woman with little sympathy for the WOW. I hear their words which scream ego & never pleasing G-d. Personally I like to pray at the wall alone, just me & Hashem. I don't like the men's prayer that much- it leaves me uninspired, so I can't understand why the WOW want to copy it. Better they should use the room provided at the wall, but then they wouldn't get the attention they so seem to crave.

  10. Noe V. Suarez says:

    Baruj Hashem for this fair law. I don't see a violation to Torah Law anywhere in the court decision. What about men throwing chairs at women of the wall at rosh hodesh time? Further, were in the Torah says women cannot use Tallit? I think we all have to return to what was practiced at Moshe's times. What is found today in Judaism is far away from what our ancestors practiced.

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