Anat Hoffman arrested during Women of the Wall service 370.
(photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky said Tuesday that he pushed for the
police not to arrest members of the Women of the Wall activist group on Monday
for wearing “male-style” prayer shawls at the Kotel.
or black-and-white prayer shawls violated rules set down by Rabbi of the Western
Wall Shmuel Rabinowitz.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had tasked
Sharansky with formulating a compromise solution for the problem, which arises
at the beginning of each Hebrew month, or Rosh Hodesh. He plans to present his
recommendations within a month after the formation of a new
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, the Jewish Agency
chairman noted that he had met with police representatives leading up to the
Rosh Hodesh Adar services in an attempt to diffuse the situation, and as a
result, “the police made a big effort to meet our request and use female
officers and not males to prevent any violence toward the women.”
a speech on Monday to a group of American Jewish leaders visiting Israel on a
mission organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish
Organizations, Sharansky said that due to his intervention – and because the
women did not cause any irritation or disturbance – the police allowed them to
conduct their services before making any arrests.
Sharansky said that
after the police decided to proceed and arrest 10 women, he was “acting in real
time” and contacted his representatives in the field to try to “convince the
police not to arrest the women and to make sure that they were released as soon
as possible, because I believe that the arrests were a mistake.”
say, however, during his speech on Monday that the police had acted
Despite his opposition to the arrests, Sharansky noted that the
Supreme Court had upheld the right of the rabbinate to maintain the “minhag
hamakom,” or local tradition, at the site. Women on the Wall “violated the law,”
“Of course it has to explained to the women that they are
breaking the law, but there is no need to arrest them. What does that give us?”
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