This morning, 65 Women of the Wall prayed at the Western Wall, celebrating Rosh Hodesh Tevet and the seventh day of Hanukkah. Approximately ten men were with us in support.
Outside the gates of the Western Wall plaza, Women of the Wall leaders kept the monthly vigil with the Torah scroll. Today, a police officer stood guard in order to ensure that the women were not harassed.
A noteworthy escalation took place today when security guards stopped Women of the Wall board member Danielle Bernstein at the entrance to the Western Wall plaza upon discovering a volume of the Talmud, Tractate Ta’anit, in her bag. Bernstein, who had prepared to give the devar Torah (a brief talk on a subject of Torah study) at the oneg (festive gathering) following services, had brought Tractate Ta’anit to use for reference as she spoke about the laws of fasting and prayer for rain in times of drought. On seeing the tractate in Bernstein’s possession, the security guard claimed that Women of the Wall were trying to bring a Torah to the Western Wall. Only after several other police officers intervened, pointing out that a tractate of the Talmud was not a Torah scroll, was Bernstein allowed to enter the Western Wall plaza.
Every Rosh Hodesh, a member of Women of the Wall stands vigil outside the gate to the Western Wall plaza, holding our Torah scroll, in order to protest the regulation preventing Women of the Wall from reading from a Torah scroll at the Western Wall – and now, according to a recent regulation, even bringing a Torah scroll into the plaza. We see that almost every month, the regulations imposed by the administrator of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, increasingly infringe upon freedom of worship by women at the holy site. On Rosh Hodesh Elul, the police officer in charge of the Western Wall plaza confiscated a shofar from one of our members. Today, Danielle Bernstein was almost prevented from going to the Western Wall for carrying a tractate of the Talmud.
On this seventh day of Hanukkah, we remember the miracles and wars that occurred in Jewish history when, as an entire nation, we fought against religious persecution. Women of the Wall continue to work and pray for the freedom to worship at our holy site while wearing tallitot and reading from the Torah.
To find out ways to help Women of the Wall further this cause, read more here.