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'ENLIGHTENMENT'

Kotel Rabbi Promises Women Won’t Be Arrested for Saying ’Kaddish’

Israel’s Haredi rabbis continue to make a mockery of themselves and of Judaism by pressing to arrest women for saying the mourner’s prayer at the Kotel. Sharansky comes to the rescue.
Women of the Wall hold Torah school in prayer outside Old City police station where others were detained for wearing prayer shawls at the Kotel February 11

Women of the Wall hold Torah school in prayer outside Old City police station where others were detained for wearing prayer shawls at the Kotel February 11
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90

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The rabbi of the Western Wall has promised Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky that women will not arrested if they dare to say the mourners’ ”kaddish” prayer at the Western Wall.

The “Great Enlightenment” of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz is the latest chapter in the saga of the Women of the Wall (WOW), whose movement – however suspect its motives might be – has exposed a total disconnect between Haredi rabbis’ outlook and the Jewish world at-large.

The flak over the recital of the recital of the Kaddish prayer also has showed that Jerusalem police act on the orders of Rabbi Rabinowitz.

WOW plans to pray on next week’s Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) and on Rosh Chodesh at the Western Wall.

But reciting the Kaddish? That appears to be too much for the Western Wall rabbi.

Even though there is a  partition to separate men and women according to the ancient custom practiced today even by non-Haredi orthodox communities, perhaps the rabbi is  relying on the strictest of the strict prohibition of a man, God forbid, hearing a woman’s voice and therefore losing his concentration on his prayers.

Or perhaps he considers the Kaddish prayer reserved for men.

Whatever his reasoning, Jerusalem police commission Yossi Pariente wrote Anat Hoffman, chairman of WOW, “We would like to inform you that, starting on this coming Rosh Chodesh, the Israel Police will fulfill its duty to enforce the law.”

The police previously have arrested women trying to pray in a minyan of 10 people on Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the new month. The women’s group has drawn worldwide publicity by wearing prayer shawls and trying to carry a Torah scroll to the Western Wall, in violation of a High Court order.

There is a solid foundation of rabbinic laws against the women’s monthly attraction, which understandably is seen as a provocation by Israeli Jews, even those who are not Haredi or even not orthodox.

But the altercations of the police and the scenes of a Jew being arrested for holding a Torah scroll have played into the hands of the WOW movement and have indeed been a provocation – provoking more hatred of rabbinic authority.

The motives of the Women of the Wall are more than just reciting prayers or reading from a Torah scroll. They openly campaign against what they call a “monopoly” of Orthodox Judaism, which has been around for many centuries, leaving open the question of how tolerant women and Reform Jewish leaders would be of Haredi demands if they were to be in authority.

Instead of dealing with the challenge in a 21st fashion – perhaps sitting down with the women  and learning with them the Talmudic  views that actually promote many aspects of modern feminism – the Haredi community has chosen measures that conjure up horrid visions of centuries of non-Jewish rules’ disgust of Jews and Judaism.

“Prohibiting women from saying Kaddish is a shanda (Yiddish for shameful) and brought on solely by the hegemony and short-sightedness of Rabbi Rabinowitz,” said Hoffman in response to the letter Jerusalem Police Chief Pariente. “He has, without a doubt, crossed a clear red line, as women’s right to say Kaddish is respected and accepted by the entire Jewish world, including Orthodox factions…

“To refuse mothers and mourning women the right and obligation of saying the mourner’s prayer, Kaddish, is cold-hearted. Women of the Wall will be at the Kotel and will say Kaddish, with the utmost religious intention and emotional commitment that is deserved and require of us.”

The issue has become so emotional that there is almost no room for any logical or knowledgeable input. American Jewish journalists and non-Orthodox Jewish leaders, often without any understanding of Jewish law, have jumped on the harassment of women to show Judaism as Medieval and allegedly anti-feminist.

One of the most recent examples is Peter Beinart’s Open Zion blog on the Daily Beast.

He posted an article by Emily Hauser, who has made herself one of thousands of modern “commentators” on the Torah. She titled one recent article, “Moses was a jerk, & Passover wouldn’t have happened without five women.”

Hauser exploited Pariente’s letter to promote populism whereby everyone is a religious authority. The “Israel’s government is telling the world’s Jews that they know what Judaism is, and we don’t,” she wrote.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu belated turned to Sharansky several months ago to solve the problem of WOW’s demands and the Western Wall rabbi’s refusal to listen, and he is in the final stages of drafting recommendations to decrease tensions.

Last month, three female Knesset members joined the Women of the Wall for the monthly Rosh Chodesh prayer, and police, for the first time, did not break up the prayer service.

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About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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19 Responses to “Kotel Rabbi Promises Women Won’t Be Arrested for Saying ’Kaddish’”

  1. Muqeem Islam says:

    Women and Men are equal in the Eyes of Yehwa.

  2. Yehuda Cohen says:

    In the Muslim faith a Muslim man can marry a child as young as 1 year old and have sexual intimacy with this child, consummating the marriage by 9.
    The dowry is given to the family in exchange for the woman (who becomes his slave) and for the purchase of the private parts of the woman, to use her as a toy.
    Even though a woman is abused she can not obtain a divorce.
    To prove rape, the woman must have (4) male witnesses.
    Often after a woman has been raped, she is returned to her family and the family must return the dowry. The family has the right to execute her (an honor killing) to restore the honor of the family. Husbands can beat their wives ‘at will’ and he does not have to say why he has beaten her.
    The husband is permitted to have (4 wives) and a temporary wife for an hour (prostitute) at his discretion.
    The Shariah Muslim law controls the private as well as the public life of the woman.
    Author and lecturer Nonie Darwish says the goal of radical Islamists is to impose Shariah law on the world, ripping Western law and liberty in two.
    http://www.archive2012.faithfreedom.org/articles/women-in-islam/joys-of-muslim-women/comment-page-1/

  3. Please clarify, are these women saying Kaddish even in the women's section (in which I agree it is a shanda to arrest them) or are they trying to break into the men's side (I totally disagree with that tactic. The tradition of the mechitzah is halacha).

  4. Janice Isaac says:

    It's not halacha for some groups, including mine. And it doesn't go back to Torah or even close to Torah times, although I'm no expert. I don't consider it "breaking into." I call it davening.

  5. okay…but the article wasn't clear. Are they saying Kaddish on the men's side or the women's side? The article was not clear enough. It made it sound as if the women were arrested merely for saying kaddish, regardless of the partition.

  6. some hold that women can say kaddish on the other side of the mechitza….

  7. Tikva Sasson says:

    women's side

  8. I think the women of the wall are just trouble causers, they probbly have no spiritual cause & just do it as some kind of militant feminist action.
    To this ends there should be a third section at the wall to one side for Reform, Liberals, Non Orthodox Women, other faiths & tourists. Any reactionry women breaking into the mens side or orthodox womens side should then be arested. Also christians or non monothesic religions worshiping or posting prayers into the wall should also be arested.

    As for women performing Kaddish maybe they could do it in that third section?

  9. imo the wall should be treated like the Kaba at Mecca, it sickens me to know that xstian extreemists worship there & post messages into it.
    The Mosque above is treated more sacredly than the wall. I realy think it should be cordend off & open to Jews only.
    Tourists should stay on one side of a barier & only Jews & Muslims sould be allowed to go to there respective sites. The church of the sepulca is treated this way, tourists are guided through.

  10. I have made it clearer that the rabbi does not the women saying kaddish even though there is a partition between men and women.

  11. so the deeply held millenial tradition (or law) that separates men from women is no longer valid even for those who faithfully hold to it because your sect doenst hold from it?

  12. Matthew Green says:

    The recent behavior and comments by the haredi community, makes me believe more and more each day that the Kararites when onto something.

  13. Matthew Green says:

    *were

  14. Matthew Green says:

    I am tired of the “shtetel mafia” dictating what is and isn’t, and who is and isn’t properly Jewish. I grew up in a Orthodox shul, but I tell you as G-d is my witness, the behavior and comments of the haredi community makes me wish I was a Kararite.

  15. There is no prohibition in Orthodox Judaism against women touching or reading from a Torah scroll while in nida.

  16. Miriam, we pray at the very back of the women's section. We are a pluralistic women's only prayer group. Our members are from all streams of Judaism including Orthodox.

  17. What exactly is 'suspect' of Women of the Wall 's motives? Our mission statement is clear and available on line to all, including the author of this article. It is "to achieve the social and legal right for women to pray at the Kotel, out loud wearing tallit, read Torah and blow shofar". In practice, over our long 24 year history, we have met once a month on Rosh Hodesh at 7:00 am (except if it falls on Shabbat, if there are two days, then on the 2nd day) at the back of the women's section at the Kotel for the morning service which includes Shaharit (dvarim shebkdusha depending on the hazanit , and depending if the group contains at least 10 women who include themselves in a minyan) Hallel, Torah reading and Musaf. We sometimes hold services on Hol Hamoed and Megilla reading on Shushan Purim. Only some of the Women wear tallit and tefilin. Many of us are from Orthodox backgrounds where it is less common for women to take on these mitzvot. I hope I have explained our goals and practices; there is a ton of info on our website, there really should not be any reason to suspect our group of anything more than one would suspect of a group of male buddies who meet once a month to pray at the Kotel.

  18. I suspect you are correct.

  19. Women are the spine of the Jewish race/religion. Without women there would be no Jewish men to write such laws. It is a sad day when a woman cannot saw Kaddish at the Kotel for their loved ones. When one is asked about his/her Jewish bloodline, where do the Rabbis ask about? Your mother… Need I say more?

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