The Western Wall Sit-In organized by the Women of the Wall has proven two things that the group has previously denied: that even its “religious” activities are political in nature, and that it does not represent Jewish women.
Women of the Wall initially called a sit-in, and its leader Anat Hoffman shot a video at the Wall in which she repeatedly referred to their sit-in and political action, not to learning. But when we and even some of their own supporters criticized holding a political activity at the Kotel, the group rapidly changed its tune, claiming that its members would be learning Torah instead. Yet this was soon exposed as another cynical political maneuver; in reality, they slept in sleeping bags at the Holy Site, in the middle of the plaza. This is the reverence that the so-called “Women of the Wall” have for the sacred remnant of the Holy Temple.
Even during the wee hours of the morning, women continued to stream to the site – not to support WOW, but on the contrary, in order to pray. At no time, not even at 4 AM, could Women of the Wall claim to represent the majority of women present. For most of the day they were outnumbered by more than (usually far more than) ten to one.
Those traditional women, from the Charedi and National Religious Communities alike, came, and continue to come, to the Kotel not for political purposes, but to pray for the speedy healing of the Sage HaRav Ovadia Yosef, the former Chief Rabbi. We, too, pray for his recovery. This is what the current plaza is for: for sincere prayer, not political action.
For those among the Women of the Wall who sincerely wish to pray in an alternate form: you need not come to the place used by those who revere tradition in order to pray at the Kotel. That is what Minister Bennett’s platform is there to provide – for a group far larger than Women of the Wall has ever mustered.
To our cherished sisters, we say: we pray you don’t decide to continue to fight. Please don’t continue to pray at the back of the plaza and then complain to the media about your “exile.” We urge you to re-evaluate whether refusal to dialogue and refusal to accept compromise is really the only way.
Women For the Wall is a grassroots movement of Jewish women, dedicated to ensuring that the Western Wall can be a place for all Jews to come and pray with respect and dignity.