We Were Stopped Again!

Praying under the jeering leers of ultra-Orthodox men
Weeks after Israel's Supreme Court issued a cease-and-desist order prohibiting Western Wall ushers from conducting body searches on us, guess what happened? 

Dear Sisters, 

About fifty women and twenty men got up at 4 am this morning to drive to the Kotel, filled with hope. Women awoke in the Galilee and in Beer Sheva, in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem, in the suburbs and downtown, with the single goal of praying at the Western Wall, Judaism’s most holy site. 

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz also arose early this morning with a single purpose in mind. Unlike every other rabbi in the world, he had a negative aim: to prevent women from praying with a Torah at the Western Wall.

In defiance of the Supreme Court’s order that body searches of Women of the Wall are prohibited, the rabbi’s ushers demanded we open our coats and expose our clothes. We refused.

Women who travelled miles to pray at the Wall were forced to pray instead by the security checkpoint, hundreds of feet from the Kotel and from some 150 Torah scrolls ostensibly available to the public. Just not to us. 

Judaism has many faces. Today, in mid-January, the Jewish thing to do was protest by not opening our coats, and refusing the humiliation of a body search. 

This fact—that Jewish women who wanted to pray with a Sefer Torah at the Western Wall were aggressively stopped by a rabbi on the public payroll—should outrage the entire world.

‘How can I stop them,’ this rabbi arose and asked?

My answer: You can’t. We will not be treated as second-class citizens!

Yours, as ever,

Lesley Sachs
 Executive Director
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