Women of the Wall supporter Ella Rembrand (center) pushes back against orthodox woman.
(photo credit: SHANA MEDEL)
Police seized a smuggled Torah scroll on Friday morning intended to be used in social advocacy group Women of the Wall’s monthly Rosh Hodesh service.
Rachel Cohen Yeshurun, one of the group’s board members, was taken into police custody before the service, along with the Torah she had stowed in her bag.
As she went through security early in the morning, she was confronted by staff from the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. When asked to open her bag, she refused.
“The police came over and said they were going to take me to the police station and detain me,” Yeshurun recounted. “When I told them I didn’t want to go, they told me they would take me by force.”
She was then handcuffed and taken to the police station. She was not allowed access to her cellphone and the Torah was taken from her.
Yeshurun said she was arrested for “acting suspiciously” and trying to bring a “questionable object” to the Western Wall.
Women of the Wall aims to achieve equality for women at the Kotel. With goals ranging from the right to read Torah aloud to the ability to change social perceptions, Women of the Wall says it strives to educate and empower Jewish women to take a stand against their limitations at holy sites.
Since its inception, group members have been confronted by shouting crowds and individuals, flying objects and violent assaults. Many women have been arrested for their participation in prayer services, including Anat Hoffman, who is chairwoman of the group.
Although regulations established by Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinowitz
permit women to wear prayer shawls, bringing a Torah scroll to the women’s side is forbidden.
Mickey Rosenfeld, foreign press spokesman for the Israeli Police, said Yeshurun’s detainment was a direct consequence of breaking this rule.
Yeshurun was not charged and has been released.