April 16, 2024
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WOW: A Year after the Turmoil

TLVI Radio/Israel reports that on the Motzoei Shabbos before Rosh Hashana Women of the Wall, who have been coming to the Kotel for 26 years to daven, came to say slichot, sing and blow the shofar, a right they won in a court decision that conflicts with the wishes of the haredi authorities who control the Kotel. It is argued that there is no halachic basis to prevent women from davening in a tallit and tefillin, provided certain caveats are followed, or from blowing the shofar. Zeeva, a 19-year-old American on her gap year told TLV1 radio, “Just because we’re here repenting for our sins, doesn’t make this one of them.”

Zeeva told the reporters that she and her friends joined Women of the Wall after experiencing inequality in Israeli Orthodoxy. Rachel Yeshurun also came to WOW because she was frustrated with inequality in the Orthodoxy she was raised in. She joined Women of the Wall years ago and is now a board member.

“For me, the turning point was at my son’s bar mitzvah,” Yeshurun said. “I actually ended up preparing him and teaching him his Torah portion. And then we got to the synagogue and I was there behind a thick curtain. Not only was I not next to him, I could barely see him or hear him. After that bar mitzvah I thought that perhaps Orthodoxy will not be my way in the future.”

She went on to describe how the movement brought Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and other Jewish women together because they dared to ask, “Why not?”

At the trial, the police accused the women of disturbing the peace and spirituality of the holiness of the Kotel and the plaza, and brought along a video that showed the women praying peacefully while being verbally assaulted with obscenities by Haredi men and women. “The judge said it seemed more like the people screaming at the women were the ones disturbing the peace. So the police officer said to her, ‘Yes, but they are provoking them.’ And she shouted at him and said, ‘That’s like accusing a woman who has been raped for the fact that she was raped. And she let us go,” said Leslie Sachs, director of WOW. This year, no one bothered them at all.

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