Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Up Against the Wall

Rachel Ginsberg

When a court ruled that the women of the wall could pray at theKoselPlazawearing tallis and tefillin and read from a Torah scroll, it was more than just a coup for a group fighting for what they claim is religious freedom. What’s the real agenda of these ritual petitioners, who have proclaimed they’d like to see the mechitzah at the Kosel removed and the Orthodox rabbinate stripped of authority?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

western wallBoth Ronit Peskin and Anat Hoffman are waiting for Rosh Chodesh Tammuz. Ms. Hoffman, Reform movement leader and  head of the “Women of the Wall” (WOW) group — buoyed by the recent Jerusalem District Court ruling allowing her prayer comrades to don tallis, tefillin, and read from the Torah in an official “minyan” at the Kosel — will be singing in front of the cameras on June 9. And if they’re really lucky, the phylactery-clad women who showed up at the Kosel on Rosh Chodesh Sivan will again endure curses, spitting, and abuse from a few dozen hot-headed young men on the other side of the mechitzah. Then their media event — the victimized underdog held hostage by a “backward, misogynist ultra-Orthodox regime” — will be another international success.

Mrs. Peskin, a young mother of three, resident of the settlement Kochav Yaakov, and head of the grassroots group “Women for the Wall” (W4W) — buoyed by the turnout of thousands of young women from across the religious spectrum who also arrived at the Kosel last Rosh Chodesh to rally for traditional prayer in Judaism’s holiest location — will be re-strategizing on June 9. Working withIsrael’s rabbinical figures, she hopes to make sure that next time, those young men will be banned.

While the media at last month’s face-off had their cameras focused exclusively on a few rowdy, undisciplined youth and ran headlines such as “Hareidim Harass Women During Prayer,” three women — one self-described as “borderline chareidi” (Ronit Peskin) and the other two (Leah Aharoni and Jenny Menashe) in the national religious camp — have harnessed massive support from religious and traditional women around the country with the endorsement of leading rabbanim, blowing the whistle on Women of the Wall and that group’s not-so-hidden agenda, which they say is far broader than a noble, egalitarian cry for religious freedom.

“They claim they just want to pray peacefully in a way that’s meaningful to them, which of course sounds honorable,” says W4W founder Ronit Peskin. “But they also say openly that they want to ‘liberate’ us religious women, to ‘liberate’ the Kosel, to do away with the mechitzah and traditional prayer, to change how religion works in Israel, to wrest religious authority from the rabbinate. We respect those who desire a sincere connection to G-d in whatever form, but we ask that everyone respect thousands of years of tradition, and the rights of those who wish to pray as has been done for generations.”

 

 To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha. To sign up for a weekly subscription click here.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you