Even though Women of the Wall’s right to read from a Torah scroll at the Kotel (Western Wall) was confirmed by the Jerusalem District Court months ago, the group is still blocked from doing so by regulations written by the haredi rabbi of the Kotel, Shmuel Rabinowitch and adopted by a previous Likud Party government.
Women Of The Wall Prevented From Reading From Torah Scroll By Haredi Rabbi, State, Despite Court Ruling Supporting Their Right To Do So
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Even though Women of the Wall’s right to read from a Torah scroll at the Kotel (Western Wall) was confirmed by a Jerusalem District Court ruling several months ago, the group is still blocked from doing so by regulations written by the haredi rabbi of the Kotel, Shmuel Rabinowitch, and adopted by a previous Likud Party government, Ynet reported.
Rabinowitch bans anyone from bringing their own Torah scroll to the Kotel to, Rabinowitch claims, prevent theft of the Torah scrolls that belong to the holy site.
At the same time, his officials at the Kotel refuse to let Women of the Wall use any of the more than 100 Torah scrolls the Kotel has and keeps in the men’s section for the exclusive use of male worshippers.
“Even if they have a legal right to read from the Torah, it's not the site's job to give them a scroll. They can try to take a Torah scroll from the men's section. It's like the Kotel does not provide each worshipper with a prayer shawl or tefillin,” a Kotel official reportedly told Ynet.
Attempts to donate a Torah scroll to the women's section have reportedly been blocked by Rabinowitch in the past.
Women of the Wall notes that Rabinowitch’s ban on bringing in private Torah scrolls and his ban on allowing women to use Torah scrolls were instituted in 2009, just after Women of the Wall’s chairwoman, Anat Hoffman, was arrested after a male worshipper tried to pass her a Torah scroll from the men's section to use and have nothing to do with preventing theft.
"On the one hand, we are allowed to read from the Torah, and on the other hand we are not allowed to bring it in [in order to read it]. In other words, only if we bring along a sofer [Torah scribe] to write the Torah on a parchment at the Kotel [as we wait, for our use] – only then will we be allowed to fulfill our [legal] right to read from the Torah,” a Women of the Wall member told Ynet.
Now Women of the Wall has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to instruct Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni to use their authority to change Rabinowitch’s regulations so Women of the Wall can read from the Torah as the court allowed.
The group has also launched a Facebook campaign to pressure Netanyahu to uphold the court’s ruling and allow Women of the Wall to read from the Torah.