January 2, 2014
Torah Banned from Entering the Western Wall
Discriminatory Practices Continue at the Public Holy Site
Two-hundred Women of the Wall prayed at the Kotel this morning, though they got off to a late start. This delay at the security entrance to the holy site occurred when the multi-denominational women’s prayer group requested to enter with their Torah scroll. The Torah is central in the prayer on Rosh Hodesh and it is also the focus of the Catch 22 entrapping women’s equal rights to free prayer at the Kotel. Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation enforce a policy forbidding entrance to the Kotel with a Torah scroll- claiming that the Western Wall has 300 scrolls for “public use”. Women of the Wall have been repeatedly denied use of these public Torah scrolls, and therefor requested entrance with their own scrolls today, only to be denied that as well. The result of these policies is a systematic discrimination of women, prohibiting equal rights to religious practice and free expression in the Western Wall as a public holy space.
When refused entrance and with no safe space to store the Torah, leaders of Women of the Wall stood vigil outside the Western Wall with the Torah while the group prayed in the women’s section.
Women of the Wall are currently involved in negotiations with the government, through Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit, over the creation of a third, fully integrated, equal prayer section at the Kotel, which will accommodate women’s prayers. Until the plans for this section have been fully implemented at the Western Wall, the group remains dedicated to their right to pray freely, including reading from the Torah scroll, in the women’s section.
Lesley Sachs, Director of Women of the Wall, “According to the April 2013 Sobel District Court decision we have the legal right to pray with the Torah scroll. In opposition to this right, Rabbi Rabinowitz prevents women from accessing Torah at the Kotel with his discriminatory regulations.”
For twenty-five years Women of the Wall has struggled 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.
Press Contact: Shira Pruce, Director of Public Relations +972 (0)546898351 [email protected]