Sir, – In light of your February 12 front-page article “10 women
arrested for wearing tallitot at Kotel,” is this a bad joke? This does not seem
like publicity designed to boost Israel’s image in the world.
any halachic difference between a man’s tallit and a woman’s tallit? If I wore a
“woman’s tallit” in the men’s section would I get arrested? I suggest that in
the future, the women sit on the floor and sing “We shall overcome, we shall not
be moved,” and that the Jerusalem police dedicate their time to fighting
The writer is a rabbi
Sir, – We proudly
proclaim that we are a true democracy and we decry the criticism leveled at us
that we are not.
How, then, can we claim that indeed we are a true
democracy when people praying in a public area are discriminated against purely
on the basis of their gender?
MONTY M. ZION
Sir, – It’s sad that some
women think they must imitate men in order for God to accept their prayers when
in fact women are naturally more spiritual than men.
A man must pray with
a minyan in order to attain the level of connectedness to God that a woman can
attain by herself! Women don’t need a minyan, a tallit or tefillin to rise to
They have their own special mitzvot that are designed
to develop their spirituality. Men were given the mitzvot that they need to
develop their connections to God because, yes, men and women are different in
their essential natures.
It’s not a question of equality.
equal access to God.
He created us and has determined the best way for
each of us to develop our relationship with Him.
It’s about what He wants
us to do. We need not pretend to be what we are not.
Sir, – Your headline “10 women arrested for wearing tallitot at the Kotel”
absolutely shocked me. Arrested? Like common criminals? Where are we living? I
thought this was the “only democratic country in the Middle East.” But I am
mistaken. It looks a lot more like Iran.
I cannot understand what is
wrong with those tallitot. They have different stripes? Different colors? So
what? Pretty soon they will make laws about the size and shape of the Magen
David worn on a silver chain around one’s neck. Look out!
Sir, – It should be noted that the story concerning women being arrested
for praying at the Western Wall was also carried by The New York Times. Are we
to become the world’s laughing stock?
Sir, – The issue
is not one of religious freedom. As everyone knows, anyone can hold any kind of
prayer service in Israel without fear of arrest or harassment.
here is where they are holding their service.
The Supreme Court has
already designated the Southern Wall as the place for Conservative and Reform
prayer services, and the Western Wall as the place for Orthodox prayer services.
Both sections of the Wall are equally holy, and there is no
However, the facilities at the Southern Wall are not as
comfortable as those of the Western Wall. In their attempts to force the public
to accept holding Conservative and Reform prayer services in the same place as
Orthodox services, the Women of the Wall are impinging on the rights of Orthodox
Instead of impinging on the rights of others, these women
ought to be using their protest movement to force the upgrade of facilities at
the Southern Wall so that they will be equal to those available to worshipers at
the Western Wall.
RANDI MELLMAN OZE
Sir, – I am not a rabbi or
an authority on Jewish law. I am a lifetime Orthodox Jewess, 70 years old, who
prays at least once a day. I have not ever felt the need to wear a
It seems to me, though, that if the men at the Western Wall were
davening with real dedication and kavana (intent) they would not be gawking
across the barrier between the men’s and women’s sections to see how women pray
There would be no way for them to know or care if the women
prayed with prayer shawls or not. Let the men work on improving their worship of
God and qualities of character, and allow us women to do the same.
Sir, – With regard to “Netanyahu’s coalition
options seem to be closing” (February 12), we were all sure that Yair Lapid and
Naftali Bennett would join the government, and in this way limit the
participation of the haredi factions.
We trusted these young
Now my trust and the trust of many has been misplaced because of
their arrogance, particularly that of Lapid, whose apparent aim is to put Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in such a position that he will be forced to ask the
haredi parties to join the government, which would be a
Way to go, Lapid
Very nice. Yair Lapid, in his maiden speech as a member of Knesset, talks about
a future Israel of mutual respect and tolerance, where “every haredi child
learns English and every secular child knows what a page of Talmud looks like”
(“Lapid: No need to fear civil war in pursuing ultra-Orthodox enlistment,”
But when it came to walking the walk, he walked right out
rather than sit through the traditional congratulatory speech by a veteran
Absolutely, it’s sad that the congratulatory speech – given by United
Torah Judaism’s Menachem Eliezer Moses – included low personal gibes at Lapid.
Alas, nobody ever expects courtliness in the Knesset.
But if a man
authentically wants to exemplify how a better future can be brought into being,
Lapid’s example just bespeaks a future of more of the same.
Sir, – With regard to the February 12 columns by Shmuley
Boteach (“The Jewish Billy Graham, the Israeli Martin Luther King,” No Holds
Barred) and Barry Shaw (“How not to win friends and influence people,” Original
Thinking), for many years friends, columnists, pundits, academics, politicians
and other advocates for Israel have called for better hasbara (public
diplomacy). The constant message is that we should do better, we could do better
But what if our hasbara was effective and Israel and Jews
didn’t need defending? What would Israel be like if everyone liked us? What if
we had 20 million tourists? What if we ourselves were greeted at foreign
airports with, “Welcome, we are honored by your visit because Israel is truly a
light unto nations on all levels.”
What if we had to endure permanent
praise? Instead of devoting massive resources to hasbara, maybe the government
should just publish an “Annual Top-10 List of Israeli Accomplishments” and be
done with it. The annual unveiling would be a major media event; the world would
wait with bated breath and then say, “Oh really? Israel did that?” It may not be
easy being a Jew and an Israeli, but despite our imperfections we can be proud
and are surviving in the crucible. Amen!