web analytics
December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Lesley Sachs’

Police Arrest Women of the Wall Director for Torah Scroll Violation and Catch 22

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Police arrested Lesley Sachs, Executive Director of Women of the Wall, as she was exiting the Western Wall plaza with a Torah scroll Tuesday morning. Sachs was detained for “disturbing the public order,” although, according to the WOW’s own report, the prayer service of about 80 women at the Kotel was “relatively quiet and uneventful” on Rosh Chodesh Sivan. Apparently, Police accused Sachs of smuggling a Torah scroll into the women’s section.

According to the WOW email, the incriminating Torah scroll was lent to WOW executive board chair Anat Hoffman by Peter and Lawrence Michaels from Congregation B’nai Israel in Sacramento, California, in memory of their parents, Ann and Rudy Michaels. Hoffman, who flew from Sacramento to Israel with the Torah scroll in her arms, related that on her journey she ran into her flight’s all-female team of pilots, Captain Wendi Shaffner and First Officer Katrina Mittelstadt, who were moved by the small Torah. The email did not specify what or where they were moved to.

“Though we believe that the Torah was handed down to women and men equally at Mt. Sinai, and though women and men both sacrificed their lives and loved ones for the reunification of Jerusalem, in 2016 Women of the Wall struggle for access to Torah scrolls at the Kotel,” the WOW statement lamented. Of course, these dear women could access as many Torah scrolls as they wished anywhere else, including at the Reform section of the Kotel a few yards away, but over at the Women’s section of the Kotel it was No Torah for you, ladies, which, apparently, defied the equality promised to women at Mt. Sinai. Not the one on Fifth Ave., the one in Sinai.

The email also accused Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the state-appointed administrator of the Kotel, of creating a “Catch 22” for women: “he prohibits entrance with private Torah scrolls and refuses women access to the 100 scrolls he holds at the Kotel for public use in the men’s section.” But that’s not a catch 22, which was described by Joseph Heller in his 1961 novel by the same title via the character Doc Daneeka, an army psychiatrist who invokes “Catch 22” to explain why any pilot requesting mental evaluation for insanity—hoping to be found not sane enough to fly and thereby escape dangerous missions—demonstrates his own sanity in making the request and thus cannot be declared insane.

Rabbi Rabinowitz simply doesn’t want women to read out loud from the Torah at the Kotel because he interprets this as a desecration of halakha. As the WOW email confirms, he has the right to interpret it this way because he is the state appointed official in charge of interpreting Kotel-related issues.

The real question, not asked by WOW, is how come Sachs was picked up at the end of the Rosh Chodesh prayer session in which she openly defied the law, and not while she smuggled it in, or while the women were reading from it?

In a final episode of Heller’s book, the Catch-22 rule is described to Yossarian, the main protagonist, by an old woman recounting an act of violence by soldiers: “Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”

Wow.

David Israel

Women of the Wall Win in District Court

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

The Jerusalem District Court handed down its decision on Thursday in The State of Israel, Israel Police vs. Lesley Sachs, Bonnie Riva Ras, Sylvie Rozenbaum, Rabbi Valerie Stessin, and Sharona Kramer, the five women who were arrested on April 11, 2013 while praying at the Western Wall.

Judge Moshe Sobell decided against the police appeal, confirming the Magistrate Court decision by Judge Sharon Larry-Bavly, which stated that there was no cause for arrest and that the women did not disturb the public order. The women were released with no conditions and police request for a restraining order against their entering the Kotel site was rejected.

Judge Sobell also declared that the Supreme Court decision of 2003 was never intended to serve as an injunction that would make the women’s prayers while clad in tallitot a criminal violation. The judge added that there is no reasonable suspicion that the women are violating the Supreme Court decision. As to the High Court recommendation that the women pray in the Robinson’s Arch, Sobell declared that this does not necessarily mean that the women are prohibited from praying at the Western Wall’s women’s section.

The judge also declared that the women are not violating the restriction in the law governing sacred sites, which says that visitors at the Western Wall are to pray and hold religious celebrations according to the “local custom.” In the judge’s view, the “local custom” should to be interpreted with national and pluralistic implications, and not necessarily the Orthodox Jewish customs of the city of Jerusalem.

As to the charge of endangering or disturbing the public peace, the Judge ruled that even if the women had behaved in a way that disturbed the public order, they never posed a danger to the public peace. The women were in no way suspect of violent or verbally unruly behaviors that would endanger the public.

Judge Sobell ruled that there are to be no limitations imposed on the accused women.

Anat Hoffman, Chairperson of Women of the Wal, said, “Today Women of the Wall Liberated the Western Wall for all Jewish People. We did it for the eight year old girl who can now dream of having her Bat Mitzvah at the Wall, and for the grandmother who cannot climb on a chair in order to see her son’s Bar Mitzvah. We did it for the great diversity of Jews in the world, all of whom deserve to pray according to their belief and custom at the Western Wall.”

It is not yet known whether the police is considering appealing today’s ruling at the Supreme Court.

Yori Yanover

Police Arrest 10 Women of the Wall as Liberating Paratroopers Watch

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Police said they arrested for “endangering public peace” 10 women who took part in a Rosh Chodesh (first day of the new month) prayer service at the Western Wall.

The women were taken in for questioning. They are members of the Women of the Kotel organization who demand to be allowed to conduct prayer services at the Kotel.

This time, the 300 or so women were accompanied by just under 10 of the very IDF paratroopers who liberated the Kotel in 1967, and who told the press they had sacrificed to make the holy site available to all Jews, not just to a certain segment of the nation.

Police behavior was a bit more restrained this time around, as they waited patiently until the women were done praying before taking them in. But Shira Pruce, Director of Public Relations for WOW, told The Jewish Press that police behavior was “sneaky,” or at least confusing, seeing as they arrested the women after they had already cleared the area.

Unlike the cops, Orthodox Jewish men did not respond at all to the praying women. In the past the women’s service tended to provoke the more Haredi congregants in the men’s section. This despite the fact that several women were wrapped in prayer shawls.

“Remarkably, today’s t’filah was beautiful and peaceful,” said Pruce. “Maybe a few Haredi women walked by and called us names. But the police told them to keep walking. With that tiny exception, it was so peaceful, it didn’t bother anyone. No one was upset.”

Pruce told The Jewish Press she and her fellow congregants made no attempt to tone down their prayers. “We sang, we danced—when we women get together for prayer, we ‘milk’ it, we enjoy it.”

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/police-arrest-10-women-of-the-wall-as-liberating-paratroopers-watch/2013/02/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: