Yoffie On Women of the Wall
We are continuing to follow the series of events surrounding the Women of the Wall, and I hope that you are now, too. In recent months, the Israeli police have increased pressure on Women of the Wall, a progressive monthly prayer group that meets at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The late 2009 arrest of Nofrat Frenkel for wearing a prayer shawl, or tallit, while praying at the Wall, and this month's interrogation of Anat Hoffman, who serves as both director of our counterpart, the Israel Religious Action Center, and leader of Women of the Wall, are only two examples of this intensified harassment.
The URJ is compiling a diverse array of resources, information, and actions that you can take to raise your voice over this important issue. The clearinghouse for all of these materials is www.urj.org/israel, so be sure to check that website frequently! For more information, feel free to contact me.
"I am deeply distressed by the campaign of intimidation against the Women of the Wall. Such intimidation offends the religious sensibilities of millions of Jews in Israel and throughout the world.
Throughout the generations, the Kotel has been a source of inspiration to Jews everywhere. It is a concrete symbol of our love for Jerusalem and our common Jewish destiny. The wall belongs to the entire Jewish people; it must not be used as a tool of division. We hope the day will come when all Jews will be permitted to pray at the Wall in accordance with their own religious customs, in an area allotted for that purpose.
Now, we urge the government to enforce the law at the Kotel in an equal and just manner and to end harassment of women gathering there for prayer. We urge Israeli authorities to allow gatherings for civic and religious purposes by all responsible Jewish groups in the plaza area of the Wall, as was customary in the past. We urge that the Wall be seen as a place that unifies our people, where all Jews are welcomed and all are respected.
As Jews have done throughout history, we remain committed to ensuring the right to free and joyful religious expression - at the Kotel and around the globe. We express our thanks and admiration to Anat Hoffman for her leadership role in advancing religious freedom at the Wall and throughout Israel. Together with ARZA (Association of Reform Zionists of America), ARZA Canada and the Women of Reform Judaism, I call on Jews in North America to stand alongside Women of the Wall and with all those who share our belief in the wonder and power of prayer."