November 7: Response to Rabinowitz
Women at the Kotel are marginalized, disrespected and deprived of the spiritually uplifting religious experience of the men.
Letters Photo: REUTERS/Handout
Response to Rabinowitz
Sir, – Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz (“Not Orthodox and not
Reform,” Comment & Features, November 5) is to be complimented on his
impeccable English and his efforts to describe worship at the Kotel (Western
Wall) as “the place of prayer for every individual” in Israel.
continues by saying that the Kotel authorities “must carefully safeguard the
individual’s right to privacy and respect during the precious moments of
prayer.” He also states that people crowd together in prayer and no one
complains that “this place is too small.” Finally he states: “And both the
observant and the secular, both Jews and non-Jews, will continue to pray at the
Western Wall Plaza side by side with mutual respect and
I guess the learned rabbi never attempted to pray in
the women’s section.
Women are allotted possibly one-fifth or less space
at the Kotel. Frequently, women stand three to four rows deep, including
strollers and carriages.
Elbowing, pushing and shoving is frequent.
Getting a spot adjacent to the Wall is near impossible.
I know. I live
near the Kotel and have given up trying.
The mehitza, the wall of woven
plastic separating the men from the women, has grown over the years. The late
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein established a minimum of three feet as necessary for a
mehitza to be kosher in a place of prayer. The current mehitza meets the extreme
standards of the haredi community, with no regard for women who wish to observe
family members celebrating a bar mitzva or other momentous occasion. Women stand
on precarious plastic chairs peering over the mehitza in a hope of catching a
glimpse of the celebrant.
A mother who suffered the pangs of labor, gave
birth to a boy and raised him in the Jewish tradition is deprived of the joy of
seeing him called to the Torah without risking a serious fall.
men at the Kotel need to stand on plastic chairs to observe someone being called
up to the Torah? As for mutual respect, what business is it of anyone to dictate
to another worshipper what kind of tallit (prayer shawl) to wear and how loud to
sing? If a woman finds spiritual expression enveloping herself in a tallit and
singing her prayers, why does this disturb male worshippers? She certainly meets
the clothing requirements for modesty. Besides, she can’t be seen and she
certainly can’t be heard, considering the racket some men make at the Kotel,
yelling loudly, arguing loudly or singing and dancing loudly.
the Kotel are marginalized, disrespected and deprived of the spiritually
uplifting religious experience of the men. If you don’t believe me, Rabbi
Rabinowitz, try praying in the women’s section some time and then come and
lecture us about mutual respect among men and women.
Where’s the outrage?
Sir, – Regarding “Poultry breeders halt egg
deliveries over price dispute” (November 5), there is a demand to raise prices
by 5 percent. Why is it that the whole country was up in arms about the high
price of cottage cheese, a far less important diet staple than eggs? The fact
is, eggs here already cost two to three times as much as in most areas of the
Given, as I understand, that there are in excess of six
million eggs here in cold storage – the equivalent of almost 100 for every man,
woman and child – I think there should be an investigation into the very tight
monopolistic controls on distribution and pricing, primarily by
Busting the mandate
Sir, – In “Bust of
Sir Winston Churchill unveiled in Jerusalem” (November 5), Greer Fay Cashman
writes of Churchill’s love of Israel and Jews, and his connection to Israel and
Cashman did not mention that Churchill, as colonial secretary in
1922, divided the area known as the Palestine Mandate into two entities, giving
about 80 percent to the Arabs and 20% to the Jews, specifically in violation of
the British and League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.
This was the
original “two state solution.” Jerusalem, at least, was not divided at that
Sir, – I
fully agree with “Lights on!” (Editorial, November 2).
I wish to add
another comment, that is for the relevant authorities to fully implement the
existing law obligating drivers to use turn signals (called vinkerim here)
before turning, pulling away from the curb or changing lanes on
Diversity not at fault
Sir, – In “Obama,
Islam and Israel” (Into the Fray, November 2), Martin Sherman proposes
“pertinent considerations” in what he considers the degeneration of the
One is that the changing demographics of the US
Democratic Party reflect a changing attitude toward Israel. In point of fact,
ever since the Balfour Declaration, attitudes toward what would eventually
become Israel have been evolving. The position of the Obama administration
should be attributed to the unifying process of the American political system,
not to divisiveness based on diversity.
Focusing on the diversity of the
Democratic Party as a cause for changing attitudes toward Israel seems to me
racist in tone.
Concluding that the white Republican American is
pro-Israel and the diverse Democratic American is anti-Israel based on one poll
is intellectually fraudulent.
I am a fervent supporter of Israel – always
have been and always will be.
Marlton, New Jersey
in the South
Sir, – Last March, my husband and I spent a Shabbat with our
daughter, her husband and six children in a moshav near Ashkelon. It had been
quiet since the previous summer and no one was expecting
Suddenly, at around 10 p.m.
on Friday night, the first
siren sounded. Panic struck: First, clear the small shelter at the other end of
the house, then get six kids already on their way to bed into the shelter, all
within 45 seconds.
Once inside we could hear the explosions loud and
clear. After 10 minutes, quiet reigned. My son-in-law told the older children
that there was nothing to be afraid of because once inside the shelter nothing
could happen to them. In parallel, my seven-year-old grandson was playing with a
small car on the carpet while chanting, “Bee-boo, bee-boo, quick, let’s evacuate
At midnight the second siren sounded. By this time we were
all in bed. Go get six kids downstairs within 45 seconds. Thank God, nothing
happened to us, but the explosions were heard.
This was repeated again
throughout the night, at 2:00, 4:15, 6:00, 6:45 and, the last for the day, 7:15
a.m. We were dead tired but well.
When reading the newspaper and
listening to the news, all I heard was that 160 rockets had hit the South over
Shabbat – but not one report gave a clue as to the personal trauma that took
Last weekend my daughter and her family joined us for Shabbat in
Petah Tikva. When an ambulance passed by, one of my granddaughters grabbed her
mother’s skirt. “Don’t worry,” her mother reassured her, “it’s only an
Sir, – Red is a color, not a code! My
friends and I call on all concerned citizens to wear red on Thursday, November
8, as a sign of solidarity with the South.
I also call on the government
to sound the alarm throughout the country when rockets are aimed at the South,
so that the rest of the country can feel what my friends there are experiencing
– and maybe do something about it!