I was not happy on Rosh Hodesh Adar. I didn’t get to the Kotel this Rosh Hodesh Adar. I didn’t know if I get into and more importantly out of Jerusalem because of the weather. A Jerusalem covered in white is a beautiful sight but a travelers’ nightmare.
This may not sound important but it was the first Rosh Hodesh (that didn’t fall on Shabbat or Rosh Hashana) that I was absent from the Kotel since I made aliyah in 2010. I always knew that I would eventually miss a month but I didn’t expect it to be on Adar or for something as insignificant as a snow storm.
I am proud of my WoW sisters who walked from all corners of the city to get to the Kotel and for the beautiful service they held. I watched the live stream sitting at home in front of my computer, in a heated room while drinking a hot cup of coffee and wished that I was there.
Being home during a winter storm (it even snowed in Beer Sheva) gave me a lot of time to think. And I found myself thinking about a very unhappy Rosh Hodesh Adar two years ago. This was during the period of time when women were being stopped from going into the plaza if they had a tallit with them. The guards started confiscating tallit at the entrance the month before. I wore my tallit under my coat and managed to get in.
That month, we were joined by some of the paratroopers who liberated the Kotel in 1967 and we sang and danced happily. It was Adar. And it was the first arrest free service in months. But as soon as I left the plaza, a police woman told me I had to go with her and there was no reason given why.
I was one of ten women detained that day including a woman who was eight-months pregnant, a 17 year-old high school girl and two rabbis who were supposed to attend a meeting with Natan Sharansky that day.
We were held outside on that very cold Jerusalem morning in a courtyard in the police station by the Kotel. Eventually, it was my turn to be interrogated and my interrogation was unusually short. I was asked if I planned to continue to pray out-loud and wear a tallit at the Kotel and I answered,” Yes.” I refused to sign papers that I would accept a ban from the Kotel for 15 days and I insisted that I was not breaking any laws. I was eventually told that I could leave.
The arrests continued after Adar up until Judge Sobel ruled that there was no reason to detain and arrest women at the Kotel for praying wrapped in tallitot. The Sobel decision stated that the minhag of the Kotel is not necessarily Orthodox and that women could pray out-loud, in groups, while wearing tallitot and tefilian, and that women could read from a Sefer Torah in the women’s section.
So why is it that women are not allowed to use any of the hundreds of Torahs that are available at the Kotel for public use or to bring a Torah in to use in the women’s section? Why is the Sobel decision not being enforced? And why isn’t the government doing anything about it? Maybe it is time to vote for elected officials who will.
Please join us at for a women’s Megillah reading the Kotel on Shushan Purim at 10 a.m.