May 14: Readers respond to Women of the Wall

I believe that God gave us mouths to use. The fact that this group turned to violence was horrifying.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Sir, –
I went to the Kotel last Friday and experienced an unimaginable event (“Haredim violently protest women’s service at the Western Wall,” May 12).
Ultra-Orthodox people stormed the plaza because there was a Women of the Wall prayer service.
I believe that God gave us mouths to use. The fact that this group turned to violence was horrifying.
Beis Yaakov girls were constantly shushing us and telling us that we would be violating the laws of women singing in the presence of men. Honestly, if those men cared about Halacha they wouldn’t have been standing on chairs at the mechitza (partition) watching us daven. They would have gotten up and left.
A man began climbing over the mechitza to yell while his friends cheered him on. Whistles were blown so that the women would not be able to pray. Water was thrown at the women. What have people from our nation turned into? Then I witnessed something unreal. A man picked up a chair and threw it at the women.
Walking out of the old city I saw groups of ultra-Orthodox children heading toward the Kotel. What kind of values are being instilled in these youth? That violence is the answer? Because that’s what it appears to be.
In my opinion, people who came to protest completely lost their minds. They must have forgotten that we weren’t at a playground or having a water fight.
They must have forgotten that we are supposed to be a nation that shines a light on other nations. We are supposed to be role models.
Someone once told me that Jews ruin Judaism. That was proven to me last Friday in so many ways and on so many levels.NOA RABIN Highland Park, New Jersey The writer is 18 and from Highland Park, New Jersey. She has been studying at a seminary in Jerusalem for the past year
Sir, –
Such a big deal is being made about the Western Wall. To some it is a treasure to be exploited in any way possible.
The Women of the Wall use it for their own purposes, with prayer shawls and tefillin to demonstrate equality with men.
If the Wall is holy, it is due to Torah and Halacha, which these women disregard totally.
In our history there was no Conservative or Reform prayer on Mount Moriah. Everyone should examine his or her beliefs and history, and then come to a conclusion.
Sir, – I would humbly recommend silence for both sides. As the haredim realized in their recent exchange with Finance Minister Yair Lapid, sometimes silence is worthwhile.
The Women of the Wall would probably be long-forgotten had they been ignored. Their behavior clearly shows their interest in publicity. They should not be given free publicity.
There were also statements by the leadership of the Rabbinical Assembly in condemnation of the Orthodox position. I would suggest to them that first they deal with the alarming rates of intermarriage. A bit of silence and humility would surely do them no harm.
YITZCHOK ELEFANT Dimona The writer is chief rabbi of Dimona
Sir, –
As a religious Jewess I am appalled at the absolutely disgraceful behavior of the so-called ultra-Orthodox adults and youth at the Kotel.
The reason I use the term “so called” is because truly religious Jews would not behave in the contemptible way that they did, throwing rocks, garbage and more, especially as the Women of the Wall were praying to God with sincerity.
If this is the way ultra-Orthodox parents and rabbis teach their youth to behave, it is no wonder the general public has no respect for them or their beliefs.
Sir, –
Traditional women should pray at “private synagogues” if they view the Women of the Wall’s freedom of religion as offensive, according to WoW spokeswoman Shira Pruce (“Nascent coalition challenges Women of the Wall,” May 13).
As Pruce correctly points out, this is a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules. Perhaps WoW should take its minority practices, which offend so many, someplace else instead of forcing it on the rest of us.
WoW, too, has a variety of private synagogues to choose from.
Its arrogance in suggesting that traditional women pray elsewhere, leaving the Kotel to accommodate WoW’s divisive practices, is typical of the elitism that rules their movement.SARAH WILLIAMS Jerusalem
Sir, –
It seems to me that the Women of the Wall are missing the point.
Although the observance of certain mitzvot is not necessarily prohibited, women are exempt, not because of inferiority to men or inequality before the Almighty, but because they are blessed with an exceptional, intuitive intellect – bina yetera – and simply do not need to perform certain ritual acts that men are required to perform in order to attain a closeness to God.
Put simply, in order to achieve closeness to the Almighty, a women needs no more than to be her feminine self. No one, not even the Women of the Wall, would consider changing the plumbing in the ladies’ room to achieve “equalness” with the men’s room.
The pursuit of the sort of total equality WoW seeks is futile, pointless and silly. It is only intended to be a provocation, an excuse to get attention and no more. It certainly is not intended as an act for the sake of Heaven.
Sir, –
Barry Leff (“The liberation of the Wall?,” May 12) states that haredi “forcefulness in confronting the police suggests that they would make excellent soldiers if that energy could be channeled in more productive directions when they’re drafted.”
I have been saying this for years.
It seems absolutely clear that we need an egalitarian prayer section at the Kotel.MARK FEFFER Jerusalem
Sir, –
With regard to Reuven Hammer’s “The Sharansky plan” (Comment & Features, May 12), I have no problem with a woman praying at the Kotel in a tallit and tefillin. Our history teaches that Rashi’s own daughter probably wore tefillin. There is no place in Halacha that states that a woman cannot wear a tallit or tefillin if she wishes to.
So what is the big deal? Hammer and Natan Sharansky are mixing up two very important issues. There is nothing wrong with the Woman of the Wall wanting to pray in their own way on their side of the mechitza.
That is much different from making a mixed minyan of men and woman at the Kotel.
As usual, it is the religious who are being blackmailed.
Ask yourself the following question: If you had a vegetarian friend, would you take that person to a steakhouse for his birthday or would you take him to a place where you could both find something to eat? If one person wants to pray with a mechitza and one does not, the fair compromise is to have the mechitza, whereby both are able to pray. The men can pray the way they want on the men’s side, and the woman can pray the way they want on the women’s side.
Orthodoxy has never been, and never will be, about excluding others. It is God’s way of including everyone in a fair way.
Orthodoxy, like democracy, does not mean that you get to do whatever you want. It means we all must be treated fairly and equally, albeit according to established rules.
The Women of the Wall have never expressed a wish to get rid of the mechitza. They have only, and rightfully, asked that they be allowed to pray on the women’s side. Let them, and leave the mechitza alone.YECHIEL AARON Hashmonaim