Responding to claims of “blasphemy”

This blog post is written by a prominent member of Women of the Wall in response to the statements made by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites. The statements were published in the Jerusalem Post 19.8.12: “Rabinowitz expressed shock and deep sorrow over the behavior of Women of the Wall members, saying that “many worshipers who came to pray Sunday morning instead bore witness to a fanatical political struggle which undermines the sanctity of the Wall.” Rabbi Rabinowitz called on authorities to prevent a repeat of what he described as blasphemy and a desecration of the holy place”

How is it possible that the same act is a mitsva if men do it and blasphemy if women do it?  What is the State of Israel doing having a man who holds such fanatical misogyinist views in authority over religious practice at this most sacred site, when he clearly has no idea who the women are who pray and seek to pray there, does not care that women have none of the avenues of religious expression made amply available to men there, are crowded twenty back from the Wall because women are alotted 20% of the space men are,  are silenced, and arrested– for praying? Does the learned rabbi know that there is no halachic objection to women donning prayer shawls? Or reading from a Torah scroll?

If such a statement– that Jews praying wtih sacred ritual objects is “blasphemy”– came from outside of Israel, or from a non-Jew, it would rightly be denounced as Jew-hatred. Why is such a position acceptable about Jews– women Jews– from a rabbi, an authority paid by the State of Israel, by the taxes of all its citizens? Why is he allowed to be a mouthpiece to propagate such hateful expression publically and officially, representing the State with such embarrassing pronouncements?

When will the kotel  be run in a way and by authorities who have some understanding of and respect for the plurality of Jewish worship customs, and in particular, of the religious expression of women?

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