Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Israel's Women of The Wall Score Another First

The Jerusalem Post reported Monday that at Israel's Western Wall, the feminist group Women of the Wall succeeded for the first time in reading from a full-size Torah scroll at its monthly Rosh Chodesh prayer service at the Wall.  A scuffle broke out after a male worshipper in the men's area of the Wall passed one of the Torah scrolls available for public use to the women's area in violation of worship rules promulgated by the rabbi of the Western Wall. The Forward puts Monday's event in some perspective:
For Women of the Wall, this is a double victory: Not only did they read from a proper Torah, they also drew renewed attention to Western Wall Rabbi Shlomo Rabinowitz’s 2010 ban on Torah scrolls in the women’s section. While the Wall boasts more than 100 Torah scrolls, they’re all on the men’s side, preventing women from using them and making a full women’s holiday service next to impossible. If this incident creates enough pressure to remove Rabinowitz’s ban, it will be a win for Women of the Wall.
But really, Women of the Wall won its war two years ago. For decades, the group’s prayer was prohibited, its activists were detained and arrested, and their cause became a rallying cry for liberal Judaism — especially in the United States. But that ended in April 2013 when a Jerusalem district court judge ruled that their services were, in fact, legal.