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August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
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Police Appeal WOW Decision, Calling Women’s Prayer a Disturbance

Judge Larry-Bavly's decision was in open defiance of the high court's ruling.
Judge Sharon Larry-Bavly

Judge Sharon Larry-Bavly

On Wednesday, April 24, the Women of the Wall group will be hauled back into court, for police to appeal the recent Magistrates Court decision regarding the arrest of 5 women at the Western Wall, states a WOW email received by The Jewish Press.

The women were arrested on April 11, at their Rosh Hodesh prayer service, and were accused of disturbing the public order by wearing prayer shawls (tallitot) and praying out loud.

In the appeal, police insist that the women were provoking disorder, contradiction the unprecedented decision by Judge Sharon Larry-Bavly in which she stated that she found “that there is no basis for the arrest” and that “it was not Women of the Wall who initiated the provocation.”

Judge Larry-Bavly then ordered the women to be released immediately and unconditionally. But Israeli police is requesting the court to issue a restraining order for the next three months’ Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Kotel, or, alternatively, to limit the women’s presence to Robinson’s Arch for the entire prayer service.

The email statement continued: “The threat of a restraining order from the Western Wall (Kotel) is not new to the group, but the threat of exile to Robinsons’s Arch is. It is a reminder that until a permanent solution has been created providing free prayer for women at the Kotel, Rabbi Rabinowitz, Chair of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation and appointed authority over the Kotel, would have police arrest and banish women from the Kotel.”

The Women of the Wall are opposed to the “exile of women’s prayer to Robinson’s Arch.” They argue that “the law must be changed so that women will be allowed to pray out loud with tallitot, tefillin and Torah at the Kotel.”

Women of the Wall Chair Anat Hoffman said: “Women’s prayer is not a disturbance of the peace, quite the opposite. Women’s prayer promotes peace, unity, community and spirit for the Jewish people. How could it be a criminal, punishable offense?”

The Women of the Wall maintain that since it has been ruled that there is no concern for the public order and there was no cause for arrest, there are also no grounds for a restraining order.

Lesley Sachs, Director of Women of the Wall, added: “The arrests of women for praying is a problem that the Knesset must confront immediately and they must create legislation to prevent this in the future.”

This reporter’s opinion is that the police are right in seeking to reverse Judge Larry-Bavly’s ruling, which contradicts and, basically, ignores the Supreme Court decision on this very issue. On April 6, 2003, the court upheld the Israeli government’s ban on women reading from the Torah or wearing tallit or tefillin at the main public area at the Wall.

The high court explicitly agreed that continued women’s prayer WOW style represented a threat to public safety and order. How can a lower court judge say it ain’t so? The sooner the case is appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court, the better.

And then, of course, we’ll discover that somebody had taken the justices a side and whispered something in their ears and they’ll go ahead and reverse themselves…

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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13 Responses to “Police Appeal WOW Decision, Calling Women’s Prayer a Disturbance”

  1. G-d is no respecter of persons and a woman have the same rights of prayer as any-one else….realize that the scriptures say that woman came from man and man from women.. full circle….therefore they are equal in His sight… The Wall is a Holy place of Reverence and contact with G-d..not an idolatrous wall of division.

  2. Sarah Williams says:

    No one disputes any woman's right to pray at the Kotel. What many dispute (and not all are ultra-Orthodox men) are women invading the women's section in order to have a singing/dancing Reformish hippie prayer service which is disruptive to women praying quietly. They have Robinson's Arch (no, it's not open all the time but then they only come once a month anyway) and when offered an egalitarian prayer section south of Mughrabi Gate, have publicly said that's not what they want — they want to come with their media circus to disrupt the prayers of other people who don't want this noise and nonsense.

  3. Well you are entitle to your opinion…thank you for posting…however that is not how it sounds on the report ..and what i stated is still the truth..if they are praying and wordshiping at the same time like you say ..then section the wall between those that want to pray in silence without even wailing and those who want to pray and praise G-d He who is all worthy to be Praise.

  4. Dan Silagi says:

    My wife and I saw "42, l" the biographical movie about Jackie Robinson, on Sunday. In it, there was a scene in which some pig cop in Florida threatened to have the entire Montreal Royals team arrested if Robinson played. The pig said Robinson was causing a disturbance and that he was: The bigots were very disturbed to see a black man play a white man's game.

    Women singing, reciting Kaddish, and wearing men's-style tallises no doubt also cause some misogynist Haredi bigots to become disturbed. Too bad. Let 'em get used to it; there were hundreds of blacks who followed Robinson into the big leagues, and there will be thousands of Jewish women who follow Anit Hoffman into the 21st Century in Jerusalem.

  5. Yori Yanover says:

    Dan Silagi · To what end? Why would all those thousands of women follow, as you put it, Anat Hoffman et al to Jerusalem? I should hope that the answer is to do the will of God. Now, should that be through the rabbinic traditional law, or based on anyone's notion of what's the right thing to do?

    In case you're interested, in Israel decisions on religious issues in places that are state-sanctioned and managed, are only based on Rabbinic Judaism. Why? Because that's the way we, the Jewish majority here, have decided, through democratic means.

    Among other things, our Supreme Court decided to forbid the public ceremony of women clad in tallitot in the open air before the Kotel, and relegated it to an area 100 yards down the length of the same wall, but under a roof.

    Now, who in your Jackie Robinson allegory is the bigoted cop? Is it our Supreme Court? Is it the majority of Jews living in Israel? Are you entirely certain that your values as an American movie goer are necessarily superior to our own?

    All of these are things to consider as you rush to judgment. In this region, when Americans rush to judgment, a lot of local folks usually end up being incinerated, so do take some time to think this through.

    Peace.

  6. Dan Silagi says:

    Yori Yanover I don't know what the "will of God" is; God doesn't confide in me any more than he confides in you, or for that matter, Anat Hoffman.

    I am a Reform Jew; obviously "rabbinic Judaism" has a lot different meaning to me than it does to you, and to ultra-orthdox extremists who actually believe the universe was created 5,772 1/2 years ago and who believe men and women shouldn't walk on the same side of the street, or that a little girl who doesn't dress as the Jewish Taliban demands should be stoned and cursed. Moreover, the vast majority of the 14 million or so Jews on this planet aren't orthodox or even close. The Western Wall is for ALL Jews, not just the 15% who are orthodox.

    Now who is the bigoted cop here? It would be the head of the Jerusalem Police Department who takes his marching orders from the Haredi rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who in my opinion is a disgrace to Judaism, as is the cop himself. Not that I have much use or respect for the Israeli supreme court; I don't.

    The Western Wall was liberated almost 46 years ago by secular Jews who shed their blood in doing so; I don't believe for a second they did this so some Talibanic morons who stood by davening could tell their wives and widows they can't recite Kaddish at that site, but instead had to be exiled to the run-down ballparks of the Kansas City Monarchs or the Pittsburgh Grays of the old Negro Leagues.

    Robinson's Arch may not be named after Jackie Robinson, but the Jackie Robinson analogy is ironically quite appropriate here.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Dan, from whence comes your judgment as to what is right and wrong- whether women should be allowed to pray with tefliin and tallit at the Kotel?

    Questions of right and wrong can only be answered by using the Torah-G-d's word- the source of all moral issues. The source for all the questions you may have on moral issues- what is right or wrong on any religious issue.

    The answer is they should not pray with teffillin and talllith at the kotel.

  8. Dan Silagi says:

    There are many of the 613 commandments which have to do with slavery; how to treat slaves, what should be the compensation to the slaveowner if a slave is stolen, etc. In other words, the Torah condones slavery, or did 2500 years ago when a bunch of rabbinical priests back-dated Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy into the Old Testament.

    Does that mean Judaism today should condone slavery? If your answer is "No," Ederyav, then you're disagreeing with the Bible, and thus committing blashphemy. Same if you believe, as I do, that the earth and the rest of the universe was created 5,772 1/2 years ago. There is abundant scientific evidence the universe was created 13.7 billion years ago, and don't give me any nonsense about how years were longer back in the day. They weren't.

    I believe in God. I also believe the Bible was written by man, and iinspired by God, and that God chooses to impart his wisdom to man when man is ready to receive it.

    And the answer as to whether women should pray with teffilin and tallith at the Kotel is that it's up to the individual woman to make that decision, not to Shmuel Rabinowitz, Micky Rosenfeld, Benjamin Netanyahu, or me. Or you.

  9. Dan Silagi says:

    What I meant to write is that I believe the earth was created more than 5772 years ago. Billions of years before that, actually.

  10. Yori Yanover says:

    Dan Silagi · You are coming across, alas, as just another American imperialist convinced the whole world would be better off if they wore jeans and drank Coke. But we have to have democratic institutions here which we follow, no matter what they think about it in Reform synagogues in Oshkosh, and our police follow the law as prescribed by the high court. And when an idiot judge, for her private sentiments, chooses to ignore the explicit ruling of the high court, it is absolutely the obligation of law enforcement and the prosecution to appeal her stupid ruling.

    As to the will of God, I have news for you, and since you are "Reform" it might actually be news to you, so pay attention: God came down to Mount Sinai, in 1248 BCE, and told the Jewish nation His will, namely the mitzvot. You can jump up and down, you can say you want to have your own way, you can speak rudely about heaven, earth and everything in between, because, let's face it, you're American. But if you deny this, then you are not part of us. Or, maybe you're some cyst on the body politic of the Jewish nation.

    Because without that pretext, without the revelation of the Creator of the Universe to the Jews and the mitzvot through which He and us have been communicating ever since, we are nothing better than European invaders, much like the U.S. in Texas and California and wherever else European thugs pushed away the indigenous locals with plagues, starvation and murder, and the Arabs would then be right.

    The reason I support the police against the WOW, whom I happen to know and like very much and respect on a personal level, is that they defy the law as prescribed by the state-sanctioned rabbinic authority of the Kotel. That is unacceptable in a law abiding country.

    You want to support lawbreaking? Start in your own country.

  11. Yori Yanover says:

    Dan Silagi · Before you put down the idea of slavery, look at the U.S. prison system, where more than 2 million Americans are locked up like animals, sexually and otherwise abused regularly, torn away from their families, often for minute crimes. In many cases these people are actually incarcerated in for-profit prisons. And overall several million "professionals" are feeding off the regular prison system.

    Now, in a slave system, families remain intact, the treatment of slaves is regulated, and their owners are accountable.

    The U.S. democratic system sanctions this horrifying treatment of human beings, but I rarely hear any voice doubting the validity of the system because of this failing. Yet, whenever a Bill Maher type wants to attack the Torah, it's onward to slavery.

    Ignorance is bliss, but only to the ignoramus.

  12. Dan Silagi says:

    Maybe you should read up on the law, Yanover. The WOW are not in violation of any law, either of man or of God. I can't say the same of the Haredi extremists who engaged in a full-scale riot in Jerusalem today.

  13. Dan Silagi says:

    The difference is that convicts broke the law. Your argument is both specious and ludicrous.

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