Monday, February 11, 2013

More Arrests at the Kotel

Anat Hoffman wrote the following this morning:

"A unique gathering happened this morning at the Western Wall. During Women of the Wall's usual Rosh chodesh prayer service in the women's section of the Kotel, we were fortunate to be supported by some very special visitors. Veterans from the IDF's famed Paratrooper Battalion 66, the men who liberated the Western Wall in 1967, were with our supporters in the men's section. These men are living legends and among Israel's modern heroes.

It was only after the prayer service was over and the paratroopers had left that the police detained ten women, including myself, for committing the crime of wearing a tallit at the Western Wall. This group included two Conservative rabbis who were supposed to meet with Natan Sharansky today to discuss the Kotel issue, one Reform rabbinical student who is 8 months pregnant, two congregants from the Reform congregation in Kiryat Tivon, and several other women. As of this writing, we have all been released without restrictions."

This happens every month now, and perhaps it's no longer news for many people. Nevertheless these women continue to fight for our right to pray equally. Perhaps this month there may be a little more interest because there is a minor celebrity tangentially involved, i.e., the comedian Sarah Silverman, currently in London to promote her latest venture, has tweeted her support:

"SO proud of my amazing sister @rabbisusan & niece @purplelettuce95 for their ballsout civil disobedience. Ur the tits! #womenofthewall"

There is a report of the morning's events in HaAretz. Of particular interest is the quote from one of the paratroopers, Yitzhak Yifat, well known from his place in the centre of the famous photo taken at the liberation of the wall in 1967. As he stood in the men's section with other male supporters he said:

"I decided to come here to show my support for all those who wish to pray at the Kotel whatever way they wish, so long as they are not doing anything immoral ... It breaks my heart that the ultra-Orthodox have decided the Kotel belongs to them."

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