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December 26, 2014 / 4 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘WOW’

Women of the Wall Smuggle Tiny Torah Scroll to Western Wall

Friday, October 24th, 2014

The Reform-led Women of the Wall group managed to sneak a miniature Torah scroll to the Western Wall Friday morning and used it celebrate the Bat Mitzvah of a girl who had to use a magnifying to read the letters.

An attempt earlier in the morning to enter the Western Wall with a regular-sized Torah scroll was stopped by officials. The Western Wall is operated as an orthodox synagogue, where women have no requirement to attend and where they have no obligation to read from the Torah.

The WoW group’s numbers have dwindled to only a few dozen in their monthly spectacle on Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of a new month that this month falls on Friday and Shabbat.

The Torah scroll that they smuggled this morning was only 11 inches high, including the handles. WoW said the scroll was ‘kosher,” meaning that it meets all requirement of Jewish law, and that it was loaned to them by someone whose ancestor had taken it from Lithuania 200 years ago.

There is no prohibition from using a Torah scroll that is so tiny that it requires a magnifying glass to read, but it is not known if the scroll has been in use in recent years. If it is not read during the year, there is no way of knowing whether there is no deterioration of even one letter, which would make it unfit for reading.

Even if the scroll is kosher, the WoW”s constant demand to read a Torah scroll at the Western Wall Plaza when rabbis already have agreed to allow the women to use a Torah scroll in another section of the same Wall but in a less visible area, makes a mockery of itself.

The women no doubt were all excited over themselves for being able to “fool” the rabbis, the ones who are real rabbis, and call Sasha Lutt, the daughter of a Russian immigrant to read from the scroll, with a magnifying glass.

They certainly were wildly singing Hallel, consisting of several Psalms recited on Rosh Chodesh, with every muscle in their mouths. They surely were dancing in celebration, but in celebration of what – that they tricked the rabbis and got some more publicity or in celebration that they were praying? That they felt so much holier than yesterday?

We will let God answer those questions, but the extravaganza does not absolve the WoW from the judgment of others, such as a counter organization called Women for the Wall.

“I find the use of a Sefer Torah as a PR prop extremely painful,” said Leah Aharoni, co-founder of the group. “The Sages have taught us not to use the Torah as a spade with which to dig, yet this is exactly what is happening here – an insensitive group co-opting religion to promote a political agenda.”

I have repeatedly written that the Women of the Wall should be allowed to make fools out of themselves. They are not innocent and harmless people, but they harm themselves more than anyone else.

Reform and Conservative Jews Upset over Plans for Robinson’s Arch

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Reform and Conservative Jewish groups are upset with a reported draft agreement that would  put the City of David Foundation in charge of the Western Wall’s Robinson’s Arch area, where they can pray in a women’s minyan with a Torah scroll.

The tentative agreement calls for the government to transfer control of the Jerusalem Archaeological Park and Davidson Center to the City of David Foundation, Haaretz reported. The foundation runs the extremely popular City of David tourist site in Jerusalem’s Old City and works to settle Jews in the Silwan neighborhood, across the road from the entrance to the Western Wall Plaza.

Avoid conflict at the widely-visited area of the Western Wall.

Israeli Conservative movement CEO Yizhar Hess told JTA that the draft agreement concerning the Davidson Center caught non-Orthodox groups by surprise.

“We were negotiating the final details of how it would be managed,” Hess said. “It was never mentioned that the City of David Foundation would be the one to actually run the place.”

Hess said that the Reform and Conservative do not take a stance on the foundation’s political leanings, which they claim are decidedly rightwing, but explained that if implemented, the draft agreement would depart from a compromise on the Western Wall outlined by Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky last year. Sharansky’s outline proposed creating a pluralist council to manage the site.

There’s No Ban on Women’s Tefillin, Ban on Stupidity Still Holding

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

A couple nights ago, my friend Larry Yudelson posted a link to a Jewish school paper in LA reporting on a Jewish school in the Bronx, where, back in December, the principal permitted two girls to put on tefillin during the girls-only morning prayer. We ran it as a news brief (with the appropriate hat tip to Larry) and didn’t think much more about it. But then the competition, Forward and Times of Israel, avid Jewish Press readers that they are, picked up our lead (no hat tips, though) and regurgitated the student paper’s original report and then some.

So, first of all a big Yishar Koach to the writers and editors of the Boiling Point, the online student newspaper of Shalhevet High School in LA. First, for catching and reporting the story, and second for not going crazy about it, such as depicting these two girls’ teffilin thing as a victory for womankind over male rabbinic repression, which is what the grownup papers inevitably did. To date, they’ve called the story Orthodox girls fight for the right to don tefillin (TOI), and the somewhat less combative Modern Orthodox High School in New York Allows Girls to Wear Tefillin (Forwrd), that the Forward quickly followed with the heroic war poem My Fight To Lay Tefillin At an Orthodox School by strapped combatant Eliana Fishman.

JewishPress.com will be covering more of this story in the next few days, God willing. But meanwhile, I believe we should extract the entire issue from the area of controversy, where it just doesn’t belong.

Women have been a challenge to rabbinic Judaism since Rivka called her kid Yaakov over to pull a fast one on her husband, Yitzhak. And feminine rage has been with us for about the same length of time.

The Talmudic sage Ulla (latter part of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th centuries) once stayed at the house of R. Nahman in Babylon. They had a meal and Ulla said grace, and handed the cup of benediction to R. Nahman. R. Nahman said to him: Please send the cup of benediction to Yaltha (his wife).

So Ulla said to him: Thus said R. Johanan: The fruit of a woman’s body is blessed only from the fruit of a man’s body, since it says, “He will also bless the fruit of your body” (Deut. 7:13). It does not say the fruit of her body, but the fruit of your body.

From this we understand that Ms. Yalta, who normally received the kiddush cup from her husband, on this particular occasion did not. And so she got up in a rage and went to the wine cellar and broke four hundred jars of wine.

At which point R. Nahman said to Ulla: Let the Master send her another cup. He sent it to her with a humorous message: All that wine that you spilled can be counted as a benediction. She returned an answer: Gossip comes from peddlers and vermin comes from rags. Which means she was in no mood for humorous remarks from traveling rabbis. (TB Brachot 51b).

In my opinion, after a little over 100 years of suffragists and feminists, it’s high time rabbinic Judaism came to terms with its women, before we lose any more wine barrels. And, indeed, we’ve done a lot in that direction, especially in shuls associated with the National Religious movement in Israel and the Modern Orthodox shuls in the rest of the world.

The problem is that it’s impossible to unload two millennia of rabbinic scholarship and halachic decisions in 100 years. No matter how hard we try, there are always going to be competing and adversarial streams that undermine the ideally smooth process of integrating our women into the Orthodox milieu.

It would have been much easier if religious women all decided to become deeply versed with Jewish law, and started pushing for a more equal, or at least a more prestigious role in the life of their religious communities. Then we would have seen a similar, ever increasing process of women’s integration as we’ve seen in the professions since about WW2.

200 WOW Drowned Out by 10,000 Seminary Girls

Friday, October 4th, 2013

The first day of Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan (which is, really, the last day of Tishrei) was yet another eventful installment in the lengthy and often repetitive saga featuring:

The Kotel (a supporting wall for the King Herod-renovated temple)

The Women of the Wall (a group of largely Reform and Conservative women who have been attempting to conduct their distinctly unorthodox services at the site practically since the crusades)

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Kotel Rabbi, who, after having fueled the WOW campaign and giving it life for years has finally decided to leave them alone—about a decade too late

And 10,000 lovely, cheerful, sweet seminary girls, who told everyone they were there to pray for the recovery and well being of the ailing mega-scholar Rav Ovadia Yosef.

Look at the funny ladies with talitot and teffilin…. Photo by: Miriam Alster

“Look at the funny ladies with tallitot and teffilin…” Are the onlookers amused, angry, or both? Photo by: Miriam Alster

According to Haredi reports, the WOW just disappeared in the enormous crowd of youthful young ladies. Talk about integration!

According to Israel Radio, things had gone a little out of hand near the end, and the WOW had to sneak out of there through a side exit, as Haredi men were cursing them out and one man was arrested on suspicion of spitting and throwing stuff at them.

Religion brings out the best in people.

The email from the WOW read: “Nearly 200 Women of the Wall prayed this morning in the women’s section of the Kotel—out loud and as a group, with tallitot (prayer shawls) and tefillin (phylacteries). The multi-denominational prayer group prayed without police enclosures and restrictions, for the first time since April 2013.”

OK, very positive, so far. Not for long, though:

“This great achievement was tainted by the incited, abusive behavior of some of the women and girls who came to pray at the Kotel this morning,” the email continues. “Of thousands who came to pray for the health of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, there was a large group of women and girls who surrounded Women of the Wall, cursing, spitting and yelling throughout the prayer.”

Also: “A mass prayer was led by Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yoseph, over loud-speakers, drowning out women’s prayers.”

They should join forces with Jerusalemites who are exposed to Mosque loudspeakers drowning all other sounds five times a day, every day. Let’s ban all megaphonic religions!

“Despite the provocations of the girls and the loudspeakers, out of great respect, Women of the Wall stopped their prayer to listen and join Rabbi Yoseph’s prayer for his father. The women added “amen” and continued the prayer only when his was finished.”

That’s a hopeful sign, then. Let the man go first, especially if he owns the decibel machine…

“It was a trying and emotional morning for the women many of whom left the Kotel in tears, saddened but also resolved to continue to pray at the holy site,” says the email.

Kotel Rabbi Gives Up and Tells Haredi Girls: Ignore Women’s Minyan

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz has requested that Haredi girls not fill the women’s section of the Kotel plaza the next time the Women of the Wall arrive to pray, perhaps on Friday.

“When Jews fight with each other at the Western Wall, there is no greater desecration of God’s name,” a statement from his office read.

A fragile compromise on multidenominational prayer has been taking shape through a committee convened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and headed by Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky.

“Therefore we should await the decision of the committee, so that we can create order that will return calm and brotherhood to the Western Wall,” according to the rabbi’s statement.

The WoW may arrive to the area on Friday, the first of the two days marking the new Hebrew month of Cheshvan, although they have been granted their own prayer area at Robinson’s Arch, at the southern end of the Western Wall but less popular among tourists and visitors than the section at the plaza.

WoW spokeswoman Shira Pruce told The Jewish Press Wednesday that the agreement to allow women to reads the Torch and pray at a minyan at a more remote area is a solution that smacks of “separate and unequal.” She said that the women are adopting a “wait and see” policy on whether to accept the compromise since the government has not yet built the promised facilities for the women.

Regardless of where they pray on Friday, they will be without a Torah scroll, which is read during the morning prayers on the new month, because their scroll has been damaged by mold. The Jewish Press reported here on Wednesday that the Women of the Wall blame the government for the damage because there are inadequate storage facilities at Robinson’s Arch.

Haredi girls have swarmed the women’s section of the Western Wall Plaza in recent months to make it almost impossible for the smaller WoW group to organize, let alone sing out loud.

Following raucous protests from the men’s section, whistles, catcalls and even chair-throwing, Rabbi Rabinowitz has concluded, although very belatedly, that a “provocation” could upset the “sensitive security situation at the Temple Mount, which is now at its zenith.”

The JTA contributed to this report.

Women of the Wall Blame Gov’t for Their Damaged Torah Scroll

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Women of the Wall now are blaming the government for inadequate storage for their Torah scroll that the group said sustained damaged due to dampness, making it unfit for reading.

Women will gather at the Robinson’s Arch at the Western Wall on Friday, the first of two days that mark the beginning of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, but they will pray without a Torah scroll.

After years of being banned by the police and the Western Wall rabbi from changing the status quo that preserves Orthodox Jewish tradition at the Western Wall (Kotel), authorities earlier this year finally arranged a compromise whereby the women can pray in their minyan and with a Torah scroll, but only at the Kotel’s southern section, known as Robinson’s Arch.

The women’s own Torah scroll is stored there, along with other scrolls that belong to the Conservative movement of Judaism, but it was lent out for use during the recent Jewish holidays and was found to be unfit to use because of mold.

“The Torah is being carefully cleaned and fixed by the leading authorities in Torah scroll repair and maintenance,” according to Women of the Wall spokeswoman Shira Pruce.

She placed the blame for the damage squarely on the government and Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz. His “discrimination against women’s prayers and the lack of an appropriate immediate government response in the matter has cause damage to a Torah scroll, an escalation from the previous blatant disrespect, shown by Rabinowitz and Haredi protesters, of Jewish ritual items, including siddurim, prayer shawls and tefillin,” she said.

After being told about the damage to their scroll, The Women of the Wakkl notififed the Conservartive Movement to schek their scrolls to see if they aslo has been damaged, Pruce told The Jewish Press Wednesday.

Pruce unintentionally made a comment that raises an interesting question about whose ox is being gored.

In her argument that women should be allowed to pray in the women’s section of the main Western Wall Plaza, on the women’s side of a separation barrier, Pruce noted that men are not allowed in the Women of the Wall minyan. One primary reason is that there are many Orthodox Jewish women in the movement and they abide by the tradition that the sexes should not mingle during prayer.

Isn’t that discrimination against men? How can the Women of the Wall rightfully complain that Haredim are discriminating against them by barring them from the  more popular part of the Western Wall, while they discriminate against men who might want to join their minyan?

Pruce  answers that there is a difference. She argues that the main plaza is a public place and not a “synagogue” and that it must be open to everyone, regardless of sex.

Granted that there really is no reason to forbid the women form praying as they wish at the main part of Western Wall, except for their being a nuisance to other women who object to the whole concept of a women’s minyan and Torah reading.

Granted that Rabbi Rabinowitz should have kept quiet and let the women who object to WoW chase them our out, or simply let the Wow pray and as they wish and be done with it.

But if it is a public place open to all, and the Women of the Wall can keep men out of their minyan at Robinson’s Arch, what happens if a group of Muslims decide they want to pray to Allah at the Wall?

Or perhaps a bunch of Christians want to pray to “you know who” at the Kotel?

Or maybe some  “cultural Jewish cult” wants to express their faith in God by a belly dance?

Is it kosher to keep men out of a women-only minyan but not kosher for the authority over the Kotel to keep out women who do not respect  a centuries-old tradition?

Jordan Calls ‘Women of the Wall’ Prayer Site an ‘Attack on Islam’

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Jordan has condemned the plan for a new area at the Western Wall to accommodate the Women of the Wall organization’s demand for an area for them to pray in an “egalitarian” minyan in which they can wear tefillin and read from a Torah scroll. Orthodox Judaism considers women as “equal but not the same” as men, who have an obligation to wear tefillin and pray in a minyan.

Their campaign offended Haredim and many Orthodox Jews, but with broad support from the Diaspora and media outlets that love issues of quality and women’s rights without knowing what they are talking about, The Women of the Wall succeeded.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to come up with a solution for the women without causing a religious war at the Western Wall, came up with a compromise for the women to pray as they wish at the southern section of the Wall, known as the Kotel.

The WoW were not happy with the compromise, but that is another story.

More urgent, Jordan also is not happy.

The women forgot that although the Western Wall is the city of Jerusalem, totally under Israeli sovereignty, Jordan thinks differently, despite the peace treaty with Israel.

It states that Israel “respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem…. The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.”

Israel has recognized Jordan as the “custodian” of the Al Aqsa mosque built over the ruins of the Holy Temples.

However, Israel did not take into consideration that Yasser Arafat would start a terrorist war to declare the Jewish Quarter of the Old City the capital of a new Arab state. Nor did it take into account that his successor Mahmoud Abbas is as much too clever politician.

Earlier this year, while Israel assumed that the PA was slowing crumbling into non-existence economically and politically, Abbas’ adviser Adnan Husseini declared that the Western Wall “is part of Islamic heritage that cannot be given up, and it must be under Muslim control.”

This past March 31, Abbas and King Abdullah reached an agreement that “His Majesty King ‘Abdullah II, as the custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites, will exert all possible efforts to preserve [these] sites, especially Al-Haram Al-Sharif [The Al-Aqsa Mosque]… and to represent their interests.” The agreement states further that King ‘Abdullah is responsible for ensuring respect for the holy places, guaranteeing the Muslims’ freedom of movement to and from the sites, ensuring their maintenance and representing their interests in the international arena.”

The catch is what is a “Muslim site?”

The Arab world has spent the past few years to translate history into fiction and declare that the Western Wall is a Muslim  site. So who are these uppity Jewish women, Orthodox, Reform or otherwise, to have the chutzpa to make a change at a supposed Muslim site without consulting with the “Custodian”?

Jordanian Minister for Media Affairs, Mohammad Momani condemned Israel’s “construction of a stage in the southern part of the Buraq Square which is adjacent to Al Aqsa-Mosque’s wall,” the Petra News Agency reported Monday.

Note that the Western Wall is now “Al Aqsa Mosque’s Wall,” the one where holy Arabs claim the  holy Mohammed tied his holy horse.

“Momani, who is also government spokesman, said the move is a blatant attack on the Muslim monuments and Waqf land which is an integral part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, demanding Israeli occupation authorities to remove the stage and the damage it caused as soon as possible,” the news agency reported.

Furthermore, “The minister stressed Jordan’s stance in exerting political, diplomatic and legal efforts to protect and care for Muslim and Christian sanctities [sic] in Jerusalem.

“Momani warned of Jewish settlers and extremists’ continued call to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque under the pretext of Jewish holidays, expressing regret over Israel’s disregard of international conventions and resolutions.”

Are the Women of the Wall listening?

Jordan’s policy is “to protect and care for Muslim and Christian ‘sanctities’ in Jerusalem.”

There is one word missing: Jewish.

The Women of the Wall never even dreamed about praying at the Kotel during the Jordanian Occupation, when Jews and Christians were prohibited from visiting holy places. Jordan has made lots of progress since then.

Now it is willing to open up holy places for Christians, and the Jews can wait for the next peace treaty.

As for the Jews “storming” the Temple Mount, that is the de rigeur term now used by the Arab press when police and Muslim escort Jews to make sure they do not commit the crime of taking a prayer book with them while ascending the Temple Mount.

The Women of the Wall have not spoken out about the discrimination against Jews trying to pray on the Temple Mount.

They have said they are focused on their own self-acclaimed rights.

The Women of the Wall, most of them Americans, do not understand with whom they are dealing. Haredim are not their enemies. Judaism is not their enemy.

Their enemies are those who demand that Jews stop being Jews.

Once they understand that, perhaps King Abdullah and Abbas will understand that while can get what they want if they deal with the Israeli government, they should never test the wrath of women.

Maybe Israel should consider sending the Women of the Wall to negotiate with Abbas.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jordan-calls-women-of-the-wall-prayer-site-an-attack-on-islam/2013/09/03/

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