Women of the Wall Dedicate Prayer to Independence and Freedom

May 1, 2014

Rabbi Rick Jacobs and 50 Jewish Leaders Join Women of the Wall at the Kotel

Women of the Wall Dedicate Prayer to Independence and Freedom; Look to Rabinowitz and the Israeli Government to Uphold Women’s Right to Read Torah at the Western Wall

Women of the Wall dedicate Rosh Hodesh Iyar prayers at the Western Wall to independence, freedom and the one-year anniversary of the Sobel Decision, in which the Israeli courts confirmed the inclusion of women’s prayer in the ‘local custom’ of the holy site. Anat Hoffman, Women of the Wall Chair, “There is no greater symbol of liberty and sovereignty than to celebrate the first anniversary of the Sobel Decision, an historic milestone in the journey to a pluralist, equal Kotel. This enlightened decision set a precedent for freedom of expression and women’s rights in the public sphere in Israel.”

On Rosh Hodesh Iyar, May 1, 2014, at 7AM Women of the Wall gathered for their monthly prayer, 200 strong, joined by Rabbi Rick Jacobs and the leadership of the Union for Reform Judaism, all long-time supporters of Women of the Wall’s struggle. Rick Jacobs, President of the URJ: “We come to the Kotel to pray with Women of the Wall in solidarity and in support of their important struggle. The reason that Women of the Wall have been praying together for more than 25 years with support from all over the world because this issue is critical to the status of women, in Israel and in the Jewish world. It is crucial that the Western Wall  be a space that allows all Jews, men and women, to express their connections to God.”

Together the large group celebrated the bat mitzvah of Millie Cymet, who read from a humash, a book, instead of a Torah scroll.

Anat Hoffman, on behalf of Women of the Wall in Israel and all over the world, wrote a letter to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz yesterday requesting to bring a very special Torah scroll into the Kotel on Rosh Hodesh Tammuz, June 29, 2014. In two months time Women of the Wall will welcome a Torah Scroll, generously donated by Congregation Beth Israel of San Diego, at the gates of the Western Wall, with three 12 year old girls, who hope to read from the Torah that day in a ceremony for their bat mitzvah. The special scroll will arrive in Israel as the culmination of Torateinu ARZA, an initiative of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) after a journey throughout North American. Between February and June 2014 the Torah scroll will be hosted in 40 North American communities, where Jews will gather to discuss the pressing issues currently unfolding in Israel, through the lens of Torah values. Its first stop in Israel is the Kotel, to join Women of the Wall and the struggle for full, free prayer for Women at the holy site.

Women are refused access to Torah scrolls at the Kotel- forbidden to enter with a Torah and banned from using one of the hundreds of scrolls held for public use at the Kotel- by Rabbi Rabinowitz, in his capacity as Administrator of the Western Wall and Holy Sites. In the past, all requests to access Torah scrolls at the Kotel for women’s Torah reading have been denied by Rabinowitz.

On June 29, 2014 Women of the Wall plans to read from this Torah scroll which has been touched by so many Jews who believe in equal rights for women, at a bat mitzvah ceremony in the women’s section of the Kotel. The Jewish world is looking to the government of Israel to uphold women’s freedom of religion and expression in this public, holy space we all share. Hoffman adds, “Women of the Wall- a group of Orthodox, Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal and Conservative women- are the first to strike down the mehitzot, partitions, between the Jewish denominations and between Israeli and Diaspora Jews. Thanks to the vision of these women, who chose to join together to pray and to fight, women’s free prayer is leading the way for a new reality in Israel.”

For 25 years Women of the Wall has continued to fight for religious freedom and women’s rights at the Western Wall. As Women of the Wall, our central mission is to achieve the social and legal recognition of our right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall. Contact: Shira PruceDirector of Public Relations +972 (0)546898351 media@womenofthewall.org.il



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