The Reform-led Women of the Wall expressed disdain for sacred Jewish objects today, attempting to sneak a Sefer Torah past police in a duffel bag. Jewish tradition demands that a Torah be treated with utmost respect, and police were shocked to discover the scroll during a routine check of WOW members as they entered the Kotel Plaza.
“We are extremely disappointed that WOW would misuse a holy Torah Scroll in this way,” commented Ronit Peskin, Director of Women For the Wall. “This is a desecration of something sacred to the entire Jewish nation.”
Leah Aharoni, co-founder of Women For the Wall, explained, “WOW’s Chairperson, Anat Hoffman, has said that even the Wall itself has no special sanctity to her, but is simply a place of opportunity. Today they have taken it a step further, expressing disdain for sacred Jewish objects, the police, and Israeli civil law in one fell swoop.”
Bringing a private Sefer Torah into the Kotel Plaza is against police regulations, in order to prevent theft of the Torah scrolls provided to the public at the site. Another group hoping to bring a family Torah scroll to a bar mitzvah was also denied entry this morning; they, however, did not attempt to circumvent regulation or provoke arrest by bringing the Torah in a bag without proper respect.
Observers noted that Women of the Wall may be striving for renewed attention, as Women For the Wall have both shown that the majority of Israeli women stand against WOW, and have halted raucous counter-demonstrations by young men. Today, a single disturbed man blowing bubbles was the worst counter-reaction to the WOW presence.
Women For the Wall called upon WOW to respect those who value Jewish tradition as it has been done since the time of Shlomo Hamelech. Peskin added, “WOW has refused to immediately avail themselves at the new Ezrat Yisrael plaza commissioned by Minister of Religious Services Naftali Bennett, or the many Torah scrolls available at that site. Instead it insists upon disturbing traditional practices at the site commissioned for traditional Jewish prayer, and all of us who wish to pray quietly in that fashion. Today besides their loud singing and general disturbance, they tried to provoke arrest while treating a Torah scroll like hand luggage. How can they claim to be fighting for the rights of women, when they trample the rights of so many more women to pray undisturbed?”
Women For the Wall, a grassroots organization committed to preserving the consensus around the Kosel and maintaining the sanctity of the place, is dedicated to ensuring that the Western Wall can be a place for all Jews to come and pray with respect and dignity. It believes that only by preserving classical Jewish practice at the Wall can it be a place where all Jews can be welcome.