Women of the Wall (WoW) plans on reading from a Torah scroll at the Kotel (Western Wall) on October 24, which is Rosh Hodesh Heshvan. If the government wants to prevent this happening, WoW’s head Anat Hoffmansaid today, it should hurry up and sign a deal with WoW and the liberal Jewish movements to create a truly egalitarian prayer area that is actually a contiguous part of the Kotel.
Women Of The Wall To Read From Torah Scroll At Kotel Unless Government Makes A Deal
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Women of the Wall (WoW) plans on reading from a Torah scroll at the Kotel (Western Wall) on October 24, which is Rosh Hodesh Heshvan. If the government wants to prevent this happening, WoW’s head, Anat Hoffman, told TLV1 Radio, it should hurry up and sign a deal with WoW and the liberal Jewish movements to create a truly egalitarian prayer area contiguous with the Kotel.
Hoffman said the Torah reading – which is likely to be thwarted by police – will be preceded by a bus advertising campaign in Jerusalem featuring girls of all colors and Jewish ethnicities. Its slogan will be, “Mom, I want a bat mitzvah at the Kotel!”
But Hoffman said that Egged, the public bus company that operates in Jerusalem, is refusing to take the ads unless WoW agrees to replace all the ads that are defaced or destroyed by vandals and agrees that the ads will only run on bus routes that do not travel through haredi areas of the city. WoW wants Egged to replace any defaced ads and wants the ads to run on all city buses everywhere in the city.
Egged’s refusal to run the ad on buses that go through haredi neighborhoods is likely illegal. The company has previously been caught taking other illegal actions that favor haredim, including allowing forced gender segregation on its buses and refusing to take any ads that contained depictions of females (no matter how modestly clothed) or non-kosher animals, drawing the ire of Israel’s High Court of Justice.
When asked about the spilt in WoW that followed Hoffman’s inexplicable decision to accept a government compromise on use of the Kotel known as the Sharansky Plan and move its monthly prayer service to the Robinson’s Arch area adjacent to the Kotel, Hoffman minimized it by claiming only one board member resigned. But she failed to mention many of the group’s original members, including many of its Orthodox members, left with her.
Hoffman also claimed that group’s vote to accept the Sharansky Plan was a vote to negotiate with the government at very senior levels.
But the vote was actually to accept the Sharansky Plan, move monthly prayer services to Robinson’s Arch – and to give up all claim to equal status and equal use of the Kotel proper.
Immediately after the vote was taken, Hoffman said WoW’s position was now that the Kotel proper belonged to haredim, and that the liberal Jewish movements and WoW would now have their own equal prayer space at Robinson’s Arch, which would under Sharansky’s plan be made contiguous with the Kotel proper.
But doing so requires removing the Mughrabi Bridge to the Temple Mount – something that requires the agreement of the Kingdom of Jordan and the Muslim Waqf that controls the Temple Mount – agreement both are unlikely to give.
The move also requires the agreement of Israel’s security services, which are also unlikely to agree to the removal or alteration of the bridge, and the Israel Antiquities Authority, which is believed to be opposed to the use of the Robinson’s Arch area as a large prayer space.
Haredim also object to making the new site contiguous with the Kotel proper or sharing a plaza and entrance with it.
For its part, the government has used the allegedly impending entrance of haredi political parties into the government as pressure to force the liberal Jewish movements and WoW to accept a compromise that gives them a separate and unequal prayer space at Robinson’s Arch which would not be made contiguous with the Kotel proper.