On Monday afternoon, I received a message from Transport Minister Bezalel Smotrich, stating: “Never happened. The Minister is very busy, day and night, solving the state of Israel’s transport crisis, releasing Israeli citizens from traffic jams and giving them good service, and has no time to deal with provocations.”
“In a democratic country, every citizen is entitled to create provocations as long as it is within the law and does not violate the public order,” the statement continued, concluding: “The minister empathizes with the Women of the wall who sought to start a provocation and counted on his collaboration in luring him into a trap that would help their public relations.”
Now I was very curious. It turns out, on Monday morning, the Women of the Wall set up a talis and tefillin booth for women at the Savidor central train station in Tel Aviv, following the February 5 statement of Transport Minister Smotrich that he would not remove tefillin booths from the train stations as long as he remains Transport Minister.
Of course, when he made the statement, Smotrich was referring to Chabadniks, but the statement he made.
According to the WOW version of events, after a few minutes of dispensing much needed phylactoral services to the busy female commuters of Israel, “Because we had not been granted permission, we were asked to stand outside the building. However, within five minutes, the Minister of Transportation granted us his approval and we resumed inside. We faced some opposition but also had the privilege of teaching women to wrap tallit and tefillin to heighten their prayer experience. We are grateful for the cooperation of the Minister of Transportation for the opportunity and equity in the public sphere.”
Yochi Rappeport is the executive director of Women of the Wall. said: “We were thrilled to discover that the Transport Minister paid attention to the matter and behaved in an encouraging manner towards the WOW ladies’ tefillin booth. We invite the minister and the leaders of the Yamina party to frequent the WOW’s tefillin booths and keep this important commandment with us.”
And, for the record, according to Minister Smotrich, he did not attack nor defend the WOW stunt, he did not grant permission, he just stayed away.