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June 26, 2016 / 20 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Women of the Wall’

Freedom of Religion on Temple Mount – Except for Jews (Video)

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Police at the Temple Mount last week escorted a group of Jews to enter a gate to ascend to the holy site but then closed it to them when an Arab mob of only 50 Muslims gathered and threatened them with hate slogans.

The police promised the Jews they could enter in another hour, but when the time came, the police escorted them away from the site and allowed only Muslims to enter.

The success by the Arabs to force the police to keep Jews off the Temple Mount is another Arab victory in what has become an increasingly evident battle by Muslims to keep Jews from having any claim to the holy site and by Jews to prove the opposite.

The police usually take the easiest way out when it comes to sensitive political wars in the name of religion, or perhaps this one is a religious war in the name of politics.

Security forces for years have honored Haredi demands and kept the Women of the Wall movement from praying with prayer shawls and tefillin at the Western Wall – until Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky stepped into the fray and supported the women’s efforts.

The police suddenly changed sides and instead of arresting the women, they protected them and arrested Haredim who tried to interfere with the women’s prayer.

When it comes to Arabs and Jews on the Temple Mount, it is clear which side the police take.

If possession is nine-tenths of the law, the Muslims have won hands down.

Complicating the Jewish struggle to overcome Palestinian Authority claims that the Jewish Holy Temples never even existed is the prohibition of the Chief Rabbinate against Jews ascending the Temple Mount, because of issues of Jewish law concerning ritual purity.

An increasing number of Zionist rabbis permit entering certain areas of the Temple Mount, and the Temple Mount Institute actively promotes Jewish visits.

The government always has preferred to “keep the peace,” but the more the Arab world insists that the Temple Mount has not Jewish history, the more many Jews say that if they do not stake out a claim by their presence, the de facto absence of Jews will turn the Temple Mount into a  permanent “Muslim only” site.

Now what would happen if, instead of religious Jews trying to ascend the mount, the Women of the Wall would concentrate their activities there instead of testing the Haredim at the Western Wall?

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Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Women of the Kotel Rev Up the Provocation with a Sefer Torah

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

It’s starting again, like it does every month, for the Women of the Kotel – can you feel the excitement? “Rosh Hodesh Av at the Kotel 2013” is coming, says their email invitation (mind you, it’s not Av, 5773—too complicated), July 8, at 7:00 AM.

The month of Av, when two temples were burned down to the ground – how very appropriate.

If you would like to attend Rosh Hodesh Av Prayers at the Kotel with Women of the Wall and receive security updates, please fill out the form below and we will be in touch.

If you wish to sign up for the free minibus to the Kotel from Gan Hapa’amon, use the check box below.

We want to do our utmost to ensure everyone a safe and meaningful prayer at the Kotel.

Well, not everyone, of course, because, judging by last months complaints from non-WOW Jerusalemites, public bus service to the Kotel that goes through Haredi neighborhoods will be suspended until mid-day. It won’t be official, it would just be a quiet arrangement between cops and the bus company—allegedly.

Now the scoop, which should send a thrill through the delicate spines of all the WOW ladies: “Women of the Wall gear up for the next struggle: Reading Torah at the Kotel.

It’s Revolutionary techniques 101: every time you reach a goal – start looking for the next one. A revolution that runs out of provocative goals to achieve might as well fold up the barricades and go home.

Also, a revolution that stops in its tracks won’t be doing so good on the fund raising front. Ya gotta remember the bottom line.

So, after receiving permission from two lower courts to pray while clad in talitot and teffilin by the Kotel, men and women together, and after it became clear that neither the police nor the AG had the stomach for an appeal to the high court, you’d think the WOW would rejoice and give thanks to their Father or Mother in Heaven and sing out a great Rosh Chodesh Hallelujah.

No such luck. Now they need to unfold a Torah scroll out there, in the open air by the Kotel, and endow everyone in the plaza with their lovely voices.

Thank God, the Rosh Chodesh reading is relatively short. The predictable Haredi screaming will eventually die down, the WOW will once again appear victorious compared to those uncouth haters. So, you understand why it is absolutely essential that, after all these many months of not reading the Torah in the open, now it must be done.

They wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and are urging their supporters to send a copy to him:

Shalom, It is with great respect and love for the State of Israel that we write today. The lack of freedom for women at the Western Wall simply cannot continue. Women in Israel deserve full and equal rights, including freedom of religion and expression at the Western Wall. For 24 years Women of the Wall have prayed and struggled for their full freedom of religion at the Western Wall. The women have cooperated with police and the courts. Women of the Wall have been full partners in each of the government committees that have been appointed throughout the years, especially the most recent committees headed by Natan Sharansky and now, Tzvi Hauser. In April 2013, the District Court of Jerusalem reestablished the legality of women’s prayer at the Kotel in Judge Sobel’s decision that the prayer of Women of the Wall in no way violates the law or disturbs the peace. He declared that the local custom of the Western Wall should be defined by the most pluralist, inclusive terms. Yet despite the women’s cooperation and the court’s assurances, a regulation from July 2010 written by ultra-Orthodox Rabbi and Authority of the Western Wall and Holy Places Shmuel Rabinowitz, prohibits men and women from entering the Kotel Plaza with a torah, thus permanently denying all women access to a Torah Scroll. This regulation reminds Jews worldwide of the very dark days in Jewish history when we were forbidden to pray, read and study Torah. It is inconceivable that in 2013 in Israel Jewish women are refused access to the Torah at a public holy site in Israel. We ask that you intervene immediately to guarantee women from all over the world and Israel the full equal rights at the Western Wall. B’chavod Rav (With deep respect)…

In other words, this is a letter of complaint to the PM, about the ruling of one of his civil servants, the rabbi of the Kotel, who wouldn’t let them bring a Sefer Torah into the plaza. What they’re asking for is that the PM pick up the phone to his employee and order him to right away rescind his regulation. Otherwise…

Otherwise it would be just like those dark times in our history, when Jews were not allowed to pray, read and study the Torah.

If they were to raise their eyes from the wall right in front of them, to the other, higher plaza just 20 feet or so above their heads, they could be treated to the sight of a place where Jews right now, are not allowed not just to bring a Sefer Torah, but if they’re suspected of praying, immediately the cops are called in to grab them off the site.

The WOW have nothing to say about that. They see no similarity between their case, where they’ve twisted the arm of the law, with the glad hearted collaboration of two lower court judges – and the case of the complete prohibition on Jewish prayer by men, women and children on the Temple Mount.

Wanna’ do something subversive? Here’s what I did:

I went to their petition page, entered my personal data, and replaced their text with the highlighted text below. I also changed the subject to: Please Let Jews Pray on Temple Mount.

Mr. Prime Minister, please don’t allow patriotic Jews to be humiliated by the Arabs who rule the Temple Mount with your permission. Please let us pray there, in the areas that are halakhically permitted, and if need be please provide us with police protection as equal citizens of your country.

I got this message: Your message was sent successfully. Thanks.

Yori Yanover

Streisand Spouts Off on Women ‘In Foreign Land of Israel’

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Barbra Streisand, now “Dr. Streisand” following an award from Hebrew University on Monday, joined a host of celebrities and politicians who know nothing about Israel but can’t resist telling the country what is best for it, especially for Jewish women.

She played a handicap game, prefacing her remarks about women’s religious rights in Israel with an apologetic remark, “”I realize it’s not easy to fully grasp the dynamics of what happens in a foreign land.”

Let’s stop right there for a minute.

She is the only artist ever to receive an Academy Award, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Directors Guild of America, Golden Globe, National Medal of Arts and Peabody Awards and France’s Legion d’honneur as well as the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Streisand is the recipient of two Oscars, five Emmys, 10 Grammies, a Tony and 12 Golden Globes including the Cecil B. DeMille Award. The three films she directed received 14 Oscar nominations.

She holds an Honorary Doctorate in Arts and Humanities from Brandeis University. She received The Humanitarian Award from the Human Rights Campaign and was awarded the ACLU Bill of Rights Award from the American Civil Liberties Union for her defense of U.S. constitutional rights.

On Monday, she received an honorary PhD from Hebrew University, where, just by coincidence, she contributed a huge sum of money for a building in memory of her father Emanuel, whom she praised as “a teacher, scholar and religious man who devoted himself to education.”

Professor Menachem Ben-Sasson, president of the Hebrew University, said, “Her love of Israel and her Jewish heritage are reflected in so many aspects of her life and career.” University officials described her as “a close friend of Israel.”

Okay. Now we have her credentials for her declaring, in a “foreign land,” that it “is distressing to read about women in Israel being forced to sit in the back of the bus or when we hear about ‘Women of the Wall’ having metal chairs thrown at them when they attempt to peacefully and legally pray.”

Streisand loves Israel, so much so that she is visiting the country for the first time in, let me count, 29 years.

There is no doubt she really does love Israel. Almost every Jew, even those who call it an Apartheid state, say they love Israel.

And like every other Jew, not to mention the non-Jews, Streisand thinks she knows what is best for Israel.

Once an American becomes Secretary of State, or a super star in sports or entertainment, or filthy rich, or gives money to Israel, he or she usually realizes that produces instant wisdom concerning Israel.

At least Streisand had the decency to be honest by unintentionally make herself look awkward, stating that Israel is “a foreign land” to her understanding.

She spoke the truth, more than most if not all other foreigners.

Israel indeed is foreign, even to Jews, who feel filled with spirit at the Western Wall but can’t tell the difference between an Arab and a Sephardi Jew, between an “anti-suicide bomber security fence” and an “Apartheid Wall,” and between a settler and a Jew from Tel Aviv.

Streisand’s comments were not so far off the mark, except that they were totally redundant and damaging to Israel in that they simply broadcast exceptions as a rule.

It indeed was distressing that a handful, more or less, of Haredim threw metal chairs and objects – on one day and only one – at women trying to pray in their own minyan at the Western Wall, which officially is an orthodox synagogue.

Granted, the official Haredi attitude towards the Women of the Wall movement is questionable and is expressed in a way that is destructive. But it is more or less a dead issue.

Ditto regarding her comments about women sitting in the back of the bus, a phenomena that is disgusting, which occurs on a tiny percent age point of buses and is on its way to the recycle bin.

After addressing both issues that already are old and irrelevant news, she admitted, “Repairs are being made, and that’s very good.”

Streisand, as a good liberal Jew who is visiting Israel to sing at the Israeli Presidential Conference Tuesday night, undoubtedly is undergoing a spiritual experience this week.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

How I Lost My Liberal View of Reform Jews and Started to Fear Them

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Back around the year 2000, I was invited by my very good friend, Rabbi Judi Abrams, to come on board a new project of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), a comprehensive prayer book that would streamline and organize the countless versions of Reform prayer books that had been out there.

I use the title Rabbi in Judi’s case, even though it isn’t the policy of our publication to use this honorarium for non-Orthodox clergy, much less women clergy, because she has earned it. She is one of my non-Orthodox friends who truly love the Talmud and know how to learn. So, when she invited me to be the designer of the new prayer book, I grabbed it. I needed the money—this was at the bursting phase of the first Internet bubble, and all my online clients had been massacred. But the project also offered me an interesting fig leaf, which I could use to justify my collaboration: this was going to be the first Reform siddur in history to include the full Sh’ma Israel reading, all three passages.

Previous siddurim have omitted the middle passage, which warns us what would happen if we don’t obey the commandments. Those earlier siddurim also omitted the third passage, about the tzitzit, but that part introduces a reminder of how to keep the commandments in our everyday life—so that without the middle part it’s kind of pointless.

During my two years, on and off, working on the siddur project, I began to develop a theory that the Reform, despite their anti-halachic, or a-halachic stance, were still inside the rabbinic umbrella. Based on my encounters with the more learned in the movement (I also met many stereotypical Reform rabbis who couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag made of blatts of gemora), I began to think of the Reform, especially the rank and file, as amaratzim — (lingo for Amei Ha’aratzot) the equivalent of the uneducated masses at the time just after the destruction of the second temple. The sages, who originally abhorred and loathed those amaratzim, once the temple was gone and the dark Diaspora had begun, started to view them as inseparable from the rest of the Jewish nation.

I felt that, despite its abysmal relationship with classical and traditional Judaism, the Reform movement was not beyond hope. And I offered, on a number of occasions, the following illustration to support my view:

We were at a large editorial meeting, discussing the texts of the Eighteen Blessings, the silent prayer or “Amida.” The Reform versions of the Amida range from ridiculously cumbersome to infuriatingly PC—compared with the traditional text, which is smooth and elegant, even in the Sephard version, which offers several alternative phrases in a number of places. No question, the Reform Amida was begging for a streamlining job.

Then one of the editors, a female clergy, suggested we add a special shmoneh-esreh blessing for our suffering LGBT brothers and sisters.

Needless to say, my little brain was working overtime trying to find justifications for that one. Was there any way that I, as an observant Jew, could lend my name to a siddur that included a special prayer for folks who break a major commandment? Might as well add a blessing for folks breaking Shabbes and another, special one, for our brothers and sisters who suffer from trichinosis. I was done for—the Yanover family would be going without fish Friday night.

But then the moderator told this nice lady: “Bring me a pasuk,” meaning offer a verse in the entire Jewish Bible that would support and illustrate the above mentioned suffering.

He spoke like a Jew. Never mind the outcome (I was let go a few months later, because of my tendency to open my big mouth to my superiors, so I never found out) – the man approached prayer from within the tradition, not as a sworn violator of the tradition. There was hope.

That episode also cost me a job with a new Haredi magazine, a competitor to Mishpacha, which hired me for a scary amount of money as senior editor—only to let me go after my boss had discovered my notes online regarding my hope for the Reform.

Yori Yanover

‘Caged Women’ – Never Happened

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

The Women of the Wall proved today that it’s not about the prayer, but about the politics.

While they were praying, they were also busy sending out tweets from the official Women of the Wall account (I guess they have some Kavana issues).

a horrible feeling. what a shanda to encage women at the kotel

what a frustrating, painful feeling. women in a cage at the Kotel.

When I heard, “women in a cage,” I rushed to check out the photos.

With a turn of phrase like that, I knew what I was expecting to see. Needless to say, I was disappointed, when it turned out to be nothing even close…

Let’s see what’s really going on.

Here they are at the main Kotel itself, being allowed to pray according to nearly any alternative lifestyle demands they have been promoting — with direct access to the wall at the plaza, so they can also touch the same section of the wall as everyone else can while they pray, and all the tourists can watch them.

WoWCage

Yet they are using SENSATIONALIST, exaggerated terminology, tweeting to the world that they were put in cages.

Put in cages!

At first I thought it was just them being whiny, but, you know what? It’s just straight out lying.

As you can see from their own photo, that it is not the case at all.

The women’s section has been divided by a standard police divider, so that part of the women’s section is designated for those women who want to pray in the traditional Jewish manner as they have been doing at the Kotel every day, and the other part dedicated to those who want to pray in their alternative fashion, wearing male accouterments, as they do once a month.

And since the Women of the Wall have been demanding to be allowed to pray at the main Kotel plaza in their non-traditional manner – and they were allowed to do so, this argument should pretty much be over.

But that obviously is not what the Women of the Wall want (that the argument should be over).

It’s not enough that they have forced their alternative method of prayer into the Kotel.

Here’s the truth of it, based on their own tweets.

They want to force their method of prayer onto to the other women at the Kotel too, including onto those who don’t want to pray that way – whether those women want it or not.

As part of their performance politics, the Women of the Wall are demanding that everyone else be subject to their methods of prayer, while they simultaneously prove that they won’t tolerate the way the other women (or men) at the Kotel want to hold their traditional prayers.

It’s a one way street for the Women of the Wall.

I am sure that within a month or two, they’ll get their way, too, and Orthodox (and non-Orthodox) women who want to pray undisturbed in the Jewish traditional manner will be made to feel very uncomfortable in their place of prayer.

And it won’t end there.

Because, as their tweets prove, this obviously isn’t about their wish to pray at the Kotel in a manner that deviates from tradition — after all, they’ve already won 95% of that (and I’m 100% convinced they’ll get permission to read from the Torah next month).

Next we’ll see petitions to the Supreme Court to completely remove the Mechitza, and allow egalitarian (mixed prayer) prayer groups.

How long until some IRAC-connected Reform rabbi demands to be allowed to play guitar on the Sabbath at the Kotel as he or she “traditionally” does in his or her Reform Temple?

This isn’t a battle about some women wanting to dress up as men like Yentyl and pray at the Kotel.

There’s no question that many of the backers of the Women of the Wall see the obliteration of Torah Judaism in public places in Israel as their ultimate goal.

The Kotel is just one of their battlefields, and the more SENSATIONAL they can make the battle sound, and the longer they can keep it going, the better it is for their camp.

JoeSettler

Kotel Rabbi Saddened by Tumult Surrounding WOW Prayer

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

The Kotel Rav, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, on Sunday morning expressed sorrow this over the prayer of the Women of the Wall and the serious inconvenience it generated for many.

“This morning, the Kotel was turned into an enclosed fortress, to serve the provocative needs of this group of women,” wrote Rabbi Rabinowitz. “This image of a castle is a disgrace to the entire Jewish people. When barriers are placed inside the prayer sections, and at the same time the bathrooms are closed, and the entrance of worshipers into the Kotel plaza is prevented, it is a disgrace to all of us and a deep injury to the sanctity of the Western Wall and the unity it represents.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

Women of the Wall Searching for Next ‘Struggle’

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

A group of some 400 Haredim on Sunday morning demonstrated against the Women of the Wall’s prayer with talit and tefilin, in defiance of the ruling of the local rabbinic authority, in the plaza in front of the Kotel.

(For the record, Israeli media sources kept referring to the place as “Judaism’s holiest site,” which is intriguing, seeing as Judaism’s holiest site is a mere 20 feet up and a couple feet eastward from that plaza.)

The Haredim carried signs that read: “Women of the Provocation, you invented a new Judaism, go find yourselves a new Kotel.”

Photo: Israel Karlitz, News24

Photo: Israel Karlitz, News24

As a preventative measure, the police closed part of the upper plaza – above the prayer plazas, to keep the protesters away from the women’s section, and all the Women of the Wall were channeled into the plaza through a passageway running below the Mugrhabi bridge (which leads up the Temple Mount) where the Women of the Wall were allowed to pray there without interruption. Also, inside the women’s section, police closed off an area with metal barricades for the Women of the Wall, so their prayer not be disturbed.

This was the way Police prepared for the monthly event, and from a law-and-order perspective it made perfect sense. If two adversary groups are planning to demonstrate at the same time, the job of the crowd control police is to make sure they never reach one another.

But that was not creating the effect that the WOW were looking for – the epic struggle images. Because, let’s face it, a revolution is like a shark – if it stops struggling it dies. And so, if the courts are now permitting them prayer, they must find someone against whom they can struggle, and a bunch of Haredim with signs 200 yards away just won’t do.

They were planning to bring a Sefer Torah this morning, but, thank God, somehow that was thwarted. The Sefer Torah will very likely be featured in the struggles to come, because the struggle can’t stop.

So, if police brutality was no longer available, the struggle today was against the injustice of separating them from their adversaries, or, they tweeted it, their “encaging.” They tweeted: “A horrible feeling. What a shanda to encage women at the Kotel.”

More tweets: “Boker tov and chodesh tov! 250 of us are on our way to the Kotel! … We are entering the kotel with police escort … We have been caged off in the women’s section and the other women are taking pictures of us … Despite the shock of being enclosed and gawked at, our prayer is off to a beautiful start … What a frustrating, painful feeling. Women in a cage at the Kotel.”

Also: “As we pray we hear protest chants against us from men and women. There are more of Women of the Wall here than all other women combined.”

To which one unsympathetic follower tweeted: “Why don’t you stop tweeting and actually pray?”

Later: “During the Shema we remember that even though this month we are encaged, at least we are not being arrested”

And a surprise note: “Several rabbis have come down and ordered the men back to their yeshivot to learn. There is nothing to see here. Just women praying (and tweeting – YY).”

WOW_060910

We’ll see what happens on the first of the month of Av, a month practically dedicated to Jew on Jew hatred. If you ask me, the proper response from Haredim and Modern Orthodox should be to cede the “holiest plaza” on that morning. Let it look like a ghost town – and let’s all of us go up to the Temple Mount for Rosh Chodesh prayer, complete with the priestly blessing.

Let’s show the world where Judaism’s holiest site truly is, and what Jews are capable of doing up there.

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/women-of-the-wall-searching-for-next-struggle/2013/06/09/

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