Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reform Women Arrested for Provocation at Kotel


Oh goodness. There are a lot of issues here to deal with, and none of them are as the Jerusalem Post presents them.

Let’s start with the headline:

“Woman arrested, released for praying in talit at Western Wall.”

She was not arrested for praying in talit. She was arrested for provocation when, surrounded by at least 40 other women, she began a Torah service (with, I’m sure, the accompanying singing and dancing). She began to unroll a Torah, and was attempting to begin reading (singing) from that Torah.

This was a clear provocation, and it was obviously pre-meditated, as the woman states: “We debated amongst ourselves whether or not to read from the Torah at the Kotel itself or to take the Torah to the Robinson’s Arch.”

The women knew what they were doing, and they did it with intention for the express purpose of making a scene.

If the woman was, as the JPOST contends in their headline, arrested for praying in talit—she would have been arrested and removed from the wall when she donned the talit. They wouldn’t have waited for her to unroll a Torah Scroll.

I’m sure that the police and the Kotel Rabbi were watching the women, who were probably giddy with their intent, march up to the wall and begin their Torah service. They were patient, waiting to see what the women would do. When the Torah service started, with the singing and dancing that usually accompanies such an action, they were compelled, by secular AND religious law to stop the service.

I’m sure the women were happy to be arrested. This was their intention. They wished to make headlines, and they did.

If they had not been arrested, what would have been the outcome? More women would have come to the Kotel to “pray” loudly with their Torahs and, while this is a beautiful, spiritual thing for many of them, they would be violating the rights of men who are also at the Kotel to pray and who cannot pray while listening to women sing. They also cannot listen to a woman lead services.

In attempting to forward their “rights” to pray at the Kotel, they would be denying the rights of men to pray there. This is an exceedingly selfish thing to do when there is an area set aside for this type of expression in order to protect the rights of all people wishing to pray at the Kotel.

In addition to the fact that their prayers nullify the rights of men to pray, we must also take into consideration that, while men are REQUIRED by halacha to pray, women are not REQUIRED to pray. Women MAY pray, if they wish, but they are not OBLIGATED. Men are OBLIGATED to pray. Therefore, these women would have severely violated the religious rights of men who are fulfilling their obligation while insisting upon the right to do something which, by Jewish law, is not mandatory for women.

It is in this context, that I would like to bring up the following point: Reform is having a terrible time keeping men religious. Yes. They have admitted it themselves. When one enters a Reform Temple, they overwhelming majority of those praying are WOMEN, not men. In fact, the Reform have started new “men’s services” in order to encourage men and boys to pray.

This is a direct result of favoring the so-called “rights” of women over the religious OBLIGATION of men.

These women should be ashamed of themselves!

And, my answer to this women’s comment, "I am not a political person. I come to pray and perform what is written in the Torah 'Speak to the Israelites and tell them to make tzitzit on the corners of their garments'", said Frenkel referring the biblical verse that teaches the commandment to wear a talit” would be this:

If you are so interested in following the mitzvot, why aren’t you fully religious? Are you Kosher? Do you keep Shabbat?

I am betting she chooses her mitzvot like they are something set out on a buffet table—savoring one while ignoring another.

This is not following G-d’s Word, this is following the selfish ways of humanity and attempting to fashion G-d into your own image.


Nov 18, 2009 10:18 | Updated Nov 18, 2009 12:39
Woman arrested, released for praying in talit at Western Wall

Police and Western Wall officials expelled a female prayer group from the Kotel area and arrested one of the women after they attempted Wednesday morning to read from a Torah scroll.

"We debated amongst ourselves whether or not to read from the Torah at the Kotel itself or to take the Torah to the Robinson's Arch," said Nofrat Frenkel, who was arrested and later released by police.

"In the end we decided that because nobody seemed to mind we would go ahead and read the Torah at the Kotel."

According to a compromise reached two decades ago under Supreme Court mediation, it was agreed that women who wished to wear talitot [prayer shawls] and kippot and read from the Torah would be allowed to do so at the Robinson's Arch adjacent to the Kotel and not directly in front of the Kotel so as not to offend Orthodox visitors.

On every Rosh Hodesh (beginning of the Jewish month) the Women of the Wall conduct prayers at the Kotel and at the Robinson's Arch. On Wednesday's visit there was a contingent of women from North America who are in Israel to take part in a rabbinical ordination ceremony to take place at the Reform Movement's Hebrew Union College.

Frenkel said that as the women unrolled the Torah scroll and began to prepare to read, officials from the Kotel Foundation arrived and demanded that they leave the premises.

Frenkel said that the women agreed to roll up the Torah scroll and take it to the Robinson's Arch. But on their way out Frenkel, who was wearing a talit and was carrying the Torah, was seized by police.

"I was pushed into a nearby police station and transferred to the main police station at Yaffo Gate."

About 40 women who attended the prayer formed a procession and followed the police and Frenkel through the Old City to the Yaffo Gate where they congregated and sang songs until Frenkel was released.

Rabbi Felicia Sol of the post-denominational Bnei Jeshrun Synagogue on Manhattan's Upper West Side, said that the attempt to read from the Torah was an experiment with "pushing the boundaries".

"It is ridiculous that in a Jewish state that is supposedly democratic women cannot pray the way they want to and only one definition of Judaism is accepted," said Sol.

"It is sad that many secular Israelis are distanced from Judaism because in Israel religion is seen as a negative, divisive force instead of being compelling and meaningful."

Anat Hoffman, Chair of the Women of the Wall, said that the two-decade-old compromise that prevents women from reading from the Torah at the Kotel was outdated.

"Times have changed and women should be allowed to have a more central role in Jewish expression," said Hoffman.

Kotel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz said in response that the women's actions were "a desecration of the sacred."

"They brought dissent and infighting to a place that is supposed to symbolize unity," said Rabinovitz. "And that is a desecration. They behaved like [biblical] Korah and his assembly."

Rabinovitz added that the women were motivated by a political agenda and did not want to simply pray.

However, Frenkel, who belongs to a Conservative congregation in Israel, said that her sole intention was to pray to God.

"We were not trying to cause a provocation," said Frenkel.

"I am not a political person. I come to pray and perform what is written in the Torah 'Speak to the Israelites and tell them to make tzitzit on the corners of their garments'", said Frenkel referring the biblical verse that teaches the commandment to wear a talit.

Jerusalem Police said that they arrested a woman from after she donned a talit, while praying at the Western Wall.

According to a police spokesman, the woman was approached by officers after putting the prayer shawl on, which police said caused an outcry from other worshippers.

"Police calmed the situation down, and took the woman in for questioning," a statement from the spokesman said.

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