women of the wall 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Despite the raucous and sometimes violent uproar that has at times accompanied
their previous gatherings inside the women’s section at the Western Wall, Women
of the Wall, a group that promotes, “the right, as women, to wear prayer shawls,
pray and read from the Torah at the Western Wall,” will hold their monthly Rosh
Hodesh service at the holy site on Wednesday morning.
RELATED:Cops release Women of the Wall leader
August 11, 2010 at 7:00 a.m., Women of the Wall will return to the Western Wall
(Kotel), with over one hundred women in attendance, for their regular monthly
Rosh Hodesh services, to celebrate the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul
5770,” a statement released by the group on Tuesday read.
services will be held with only the partial participation of chairperson Anat
Hoffman, who was arrested by Jerusalem police during the group’s Rosh Hodesh Av
service a month ago, as she carried a Torah scroll away from the Western Wall
and towards Robinson’s Arch.
After her arrest, police issued a
restraining order against Hoffman, preventing her from approaching the Western
Wall for 30 days.
According to Women of the Wall, “for the past few
months, the police have similarly forbidden women from carrying the Torah inside
the area of the Western Wall, unofficially and not in accordance with the
Responding to a past decision by the Supreme Court –
which in 2003 reversed its own previous ruling and stated that the group was not
allowed to wear prayer shawls or tefillin or read from the Torah at the Western
Wall as it posed a threat to “public safety and order”– Hoffman said, “aside
from the pain and regret we feel over the latest Supreme Court decision, we have
no intention of giving up on such an important and accepted Jewish symbol as the
The Supreme Court did, however, allow the Women of the Wall to
hold prayer services and read from the Torah at the nearby Robinson’s Arch,
which Hoffman alluded to in her remarks.
“If we have been sentenced to
only read the Torah at Robinson’s Arch, we will obey, but we will not give up on
having the Torah present during our prayer at the Kotel,” she
According to the concluding paragraph of Women of the Wall’s
Tuesday press release, “since the police have exiled the Torah from the Kotel
plaza, it will stay in the arms of Hoffman, who will wait for the group at the
entrance of the Western Wall Plaza from 7:00-8:00 a.m.”
join the march to Robinson’s Arch, to continue the celebration and prayer in the
small segment of the Old City of Jerusalem where women are allowed to pray
freely, safely far enough away from the Western Wall, as designated by the
courts,” the release concluded.
Jerusalem Police on Tuesday evening
declined to comment on the group’s plans, nor would a police spokesman elaborate
on any plans for a bolstered police presence at the Western Wall.
month, the group launched a global campaign to support their right to pray with
Torah scrolls at the Western Wall.
The Jerusalem-based group wants 10,000
Jewish women around the world to send photos of themselves holding Torah scrolls
to key Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Jewish
Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.
The campaign is to show that Jewish
women are free to hold Torah scrolls everywhere except at the Wall, Judaism’s
most holy site.
The photos are being sent with a message that reads, in
part: "Women of the Wall are not alone. Our daughters and our rabbis, our
mothers and our grandmothers, our cantors and our teachers hold the Torah, read
from the Torah, and study the Torah every day... only in Jerusalem do women pray
with fear and only in Jerusalem are women treated as criminals for practicing
The campaign began after Tisha Be’av on July 19 and extends
through Simhat Torah, which in the Diaspora falls on October 1.
addition to the past arrests of group members, some previous Women of
prayer services at the Kotel have elicited violent responses from others
at the site, who in the past have hurled epithets, chairs and even
Women of the Wall members during their gatherings.JTA contributed to