I’d be misleading you if I didn’t put it out there immediately — I can’t stand the Women of the Wall, including the queen bee herself, Anat Hoffman, who was recently arrested at the Kotel for opening a sefer Torah in the women’s section, which she and her cronies smuggle in each Rosh Chodesh in the name of equality and women’s rights.
The Kotel is a holy Jewish site, and it should be a place that is comfortable for anyone who would like to pray there. Â Yes, this includes the money-sucking, draft-dodging ultra-Orthodox who believe that women reading Torah is a chilul Hashem. Â To do that, there needs to be a place where women don’t read Torah.
Women who want to read Torah should, of course, have a space to do that. Â What the Women of the Wall fail to accept is that they do have a place to read Torah at Robinson’s Arch, the Masorti area of the Western Wall Complex. Â Having worked for a Conservative program this past year, I davened there with an egalitarian minyan — albeit not my cup of tea to pray as such, it was a beautiful, intimate space where women were able to do whatever they pleased in terms of being involved in the service. Â But for WoW, it’s not good enough. Â They believe that it is their right to daven however they please, wherever they please, which by definition makes it a place that is unsuitable for many Orthodox Jews. Â How does that promote tolerance? Where are the pluralist values here? Â I’m not defending the disgusting human beings who react to the WoW with violence or bogus arrests, but the group itself shows absolutely zero respect for the non-egalitarian perspective, and it doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t teach anyone anything, it generates further resentment, and it’s unfair to those who have differing interpretations of what constitutes appropriate methods of Jewish prayer.
By the same token, last I checked, Israel wasn’t akin to Saudi Arabia and the police were officers that ensure the safety and security of its people, not the puppets of religious extremists who take non-violent ‘protesters’ into custody. Â The fact that a woman was arrested for opening a sefer Torah is a disgrace, regardless of how inappropriately she may be asserting her perspective. Â The Israeli police should act with integrity, which by definition means refusing to succumb to pressure from Charedi extremists.
Frankly, it’s sad when everyone involved is a complete loser and contrary to the cause.