From the JTA: Woman wearing tallit arrested at Western Wall

From the JPost: Woman wearing talit at Kotel detained

From Haaretz: Police arrest woman for wearing prayer shawl at Western Wall

From ArutzSheva: Police Arrest, Release Woman with Prayer Shawl at Kotel.

In fact the articles are completely different — JPost says a woman was detained after trying to read from a Torah near the Kotel. The JTA, that she was arrested for wearing a Tallit.

The prayer shawl was not the reason she was detained. She was not arrested, obviously, because she was immediately released. I am not judging what should happen there — I advocate some kind of compromise — I am judging the sensational headlines, and the damage they do to the Jewish people, by our own news sources.

Forget the whole CNN vs FOX vs MSNBC debate. We have our own headline battles, though more subtle.

The woman detained was interviewed by the Jpost:

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 Robinsons 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, she said.

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.

The Jewish headlines are helping to divide an already divided people desperate for some kind of unity to face external threats.

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Rabbi Yonah


  • Is the issue that she was not actually arrested? I guess the headlines are kinda sensational in that case but so it seems to me was the removal of this woman from the Kotel. What’s the big deal with reading from the torah/wearing a tallit? I’m assuming they were on the woman’s side, so really where is the harm? If this actually happened, doesn’t the event itself hurt the community more than any headlines.

  • Wow – I have so much to say about this topic, I don’t know where to start. How about with some more questions…

    Rabbi Yonah, do you have a suggestion for a compromise? Do you think tolerance is out of the question? As best to not fight from within our communities and do more damage to ourselves, where do you think would be best to focus our energies that these kinds of headlines don’t take on the conflicting international negative connotations (that you’ve so conveniently pointed out)???

  • This was a deliberate provocation by a small group unable to accept the compromise worked out years earlier.

    Another example of “progressive” hubris – “but I know I’m right, so I can diss you all and flaunt the rules.”

    There is a place near the Wall where women are allowed to read the Torah – it’s called Robinson’s Arch. That was the compromise worked out years ago, to avoid offending the largely Orthodox regulars at the Wall.

    Instead, these women deliberately attempted to set up a Torah reading in the middle of the Kotel square – to answer your question, Tiff, they were not in the women’s section, they were in the main square.

    From the JPost article – a self-righteous American “rabbette” reveals the intentional nature of the incident:

    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”.

    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.

    …at least according to her.

    So the Orthodox peons who throng the Kotel plaza will just have to get with the program.

    Idiots – should have really been arrested.

  • Tolerance has to go both ways – and apparently the group was trying to cause a fuss, and succeeded.

    BUT my intent was to point out in less dramatic terms that the Jewish headlines of today are also helping to divide the community.

    That there will be actions that divide us — that is for certain.

    Anyway, I might be just as guilty as the next here on the Jewlicious channel. I love fun and provocative headlines.

  • Thanks for the info Ben David – I didn’t realize that they weren’t in the woman’s section and that there is an area designated for this kind of thing.

    • Tiff, the area designated for this sort of thing is off to the side and away from the main part of the wall. It establishes a hierarchy of “good” and “better” Jews.

  • [quote]The Jewish headlines are helping to divide an already divided people desperate for some kind of unity to face external threats.[/quote]

    And apparently this site, in its next blog continues that tradition. It provides yet another version.

    • This site has provided you with what no news reporter could: first hand information from somebody who was there.

  • What I don’t understand, The Middle, is how is the Southern Kotel any less holy than any other part of the Kotel? Is it because it figures less in cheesy illustrations of the Kotel that adorn postcards and are sold to tourists? how is Robinson’s Arch less holy to the Jews?

  • I actually agree with you. Not only do I agree, but I find Robinson’s Arch a much more beautiful area than the main square. For that reason, I say give the yucky part to these nefarious women and send the men down to Robinson’s Arch. 😉

  • The best solution would be to integrate the existing Westeren Wall plaza with the stunning excavations that wrap around the south-west wall of the Mount. This would integrate the ancient Hulda steps – which are often used as an impromptu amphitheater – the city walls, and the Davidson Archeological Center near the Dung Gate.

    That would give plenty of room for all, and one archeological site that traces the story of the place from ancient to modern times.

    The original Wailing wall has no particular significance – except to those wanting to make a scene in public. Itwas decided by default, the only place where later Arab buildings had not obscured Herod’s retaining wall and arches. There never even was a plaza before 1967, just an alleyway.

  • Off the record — I say we all just go pray (boys and girls together, nice and pretty) in our tallit and tfillin in the tunnels under the Wailing Wall at the closest public spot possible to the foundation stone, Holy of Holy-ies.

  • Ive lived in Israel for the past 34 years, although I have attended numerous ceremonies at the Western wall, I tremble everytime I hear Hatikvah, I consider myself a traditonal liberal (I made it up) and ya know what:

    Regarding the Arabs the Kotel and J-M are worth fighting for because so many Jews feel so special there, however, regarding the fight of where we worship God, it is simply not worth the split and fight (we learned that 2,039 years ago) – So guess what – The Kotel is a place to visit, not closer to God than the local Jerusalem Kosher Mcdonalds, and I can pray elsewhere too. When the zealots on both sides finish their fighting (and they should both be ashamed), they can call me up.

    The best solution for all Jewish groups is to Study more Torah. It turns out (and I dont study enough) that when Yeshivah classes are in session, there is more peace and less confrontation – That goes for all groups.

    Please watch the link and comment