On the first day of the month of Kislev, I prayed Shacharit, as usual, wearing my talith at the Kotel, together with my friends from Women of the Wall (WOW).
But this time, the prayer ended differently. I was aggressively arrested and a criminal file opened under my name. Israeli law claims that the punishment for a Jewish female, who prays at the Kotel while fulfilling a mitzvah from the Torah – (wearing a talith, putting on teffilin, reading from the Torah) is six months in jail. Besides the severe discrimination among males and females, this ruling has strengthened the unshakable Haredi control over Jewish life in Israel, and denies the freedom of worship.
Because of my criminal record, my future license to practice medicine is in danger. But something good has came out of it as well – the struggle of WOW was re-awakened. At first, I was afraid. As a small group of ordinary people, our struggle is going to be long and hard, against factions with tremendous political power.
How can we face them? It was the global support we received that put the wind in our sails. After my arrest, Jews in both Israel and the Diaspora understood that we have to win this battle by foot. Men and women, from all sects of Judaism, have arrived monthly to pray with WOW at the Kotel and insist on their right for freedom of worship.
The hope in our hearts has awakened again. The hope that our children will be worthy, if G-D’s will, to live in a state that inscribes on its flag the belief in human rights with no discrimination among different sects of one religion, among males and females, among all of those created in G-D’s image.
Nofrat Frenkel is a fifth-year medical student at Ben-Gurion University.