When I was 17, I had my first Israel experience. On our first Friday evening in Jerusalem, we danced and sang and got as close to the Kotel as we dared, slightly afraid of the crone-like ladies who had begged us for money, proffering a red string in return, earlier that day. While we spent a few more Shabbatot in Jerusalem that summer, and while I have been in Jerusalem since, I have never gotten closer than that first Shabbat. I have never touched the Kotel. I have never placed a slip of paper in its cracks. I have never prayed with the Women of the Wall.

But…when I watched thefootage of the police taking Anat Hoffman into custody, I was angry and frustrated. She was scolded as if she were a child; led away and taken into police custody for holding a Torah…it’s crazy to me. I recall my first thoughts were – don’t the police have more important things to do, like catch rapists, murderers and arrest people for violent offences? Whom does she hurt by carrying a Torah? I certainly don’t claim to be as informed as Cori. In fact, I like to run high on emotions and as few facts as possible…but how can the Kotel be a place that is comfortable for anyone who would like to pray there, when half of the population can’t pray there because of their anatomy?

Clearly, I’m a little slow in responding to Anat’s arrest… The point of this post is to call attention to the positive things that the Women of the Wall are doing in the wake of a bad situation and bad press. WOW has issued a call to action – an opportunity for positive images of women studying, teaching, carrying, reading from and embracing the Torah, to make it to the Knesset. In their Take a Stand campaign, Women of the Wall ask us to take photos of the women in our communities with Torah scrolls, upload them to their website and send them, along with a letter to Bibi (I can call him that, we went to the same high school) and other officials. They ask that this be a time of recognizing women’s participation in prayer & the Torah – a positive recognition with smiling faces of women praying and studying together, instead of the uncomfortable images of Anat’s arrest that are still circulating in the media. Upload your photo, send your letter – Take a Stand.

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  • Hoffman – and WOW – were scolded like children because they behave like children.

    In their uffish self-righeousness, they refuse to honor decisions of the Israeli Supreme court, and insist on imposing their minority view upon the majority.

    They deserve every scolding – and arrest – they get.

  • In Judaism, the ‘kavanah’ – the intention is often much more important than the actual action. Many times, you might actually be acting out a mitzvah, but since your mind is not there, you are not getting any points. It’s not easy, and frankly, we keep doing many mitzvot without points so that one day, today, tomorrow, or in 70 years, we might get it right, or maybe our kids will.

    The wow apparently had one kavanah – just do the mitzvah and who cares what anyone else thinks. No points. How many years did it take them to realize the militant way does not work? When will they realize that the wall does not really have any kedushah at all, and that it is in fact just the world’s largest orthodox shteiplech? When will the wow attempt to go up on the Temple Mount and try to pray. Power to them to put their energy in the right place for progress.

  • here is my answer to wow


    wow are not interested in doing mitvot, they are interested in making political statements and trying to show that judaism is a sexist religion…

    i do not believe in the arrests…but wow does nothing for women

  • Josh, I love your comment but I’m afraid you are wrong about kavannah, Different mitzvot have different requirements. In Judaism, most mitzvot require action, some other require kavannah, some require both i.e. prayer. There are even mitzvot that require none of these, e.g. hearing the shofar. This is the rabbinical opinion of the midrashim of mitzvot. You can challenge it, of course, if your midrashim make more sense.
    Your point about the Temple Mount itself is brilliant

    Personally I don’t think that orthodoxy is danger if WOWs carrying Tora scrolls around. But when you come to place to pray you must always respect the rules of this specific place. The kotel is an open-air beit knesset, and customs there are quite orthodox most of the time. The kotel is not the temple. There is no shehina there other than the she

    I understand the struggle of IRAC but some actions are just pointless. Could someone enlighten me in this case?
    To put things straight: Anat Hoffman was not arrested but was led away by kotel security and asked by police for an hour. Then, who is going to press charges? The ultra zealots probably have no idea about the supreme court and how the juridical systems in Israel works anyway. The police has no interest in this case, they just try to keep things within the usual margins of chaos.