In the U.S., 2013 was the year of Women of the Wall — and the organization’s 25th anniversary, to boot. The group advocates for the right of women to pray collectively and audibly at the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites. Founded in 1988, WOW’s main tactic for two decades has been civil disobedience: the gathering of its members to celebrate each new month by holding a liturgically traditional service at the Wall. Over the years, the women have been negotiated with, reviled and harassed, most often by members of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox minority, which finds their presence offensive.
If further evidence is needed that the divide between the Orthodox and the rest of the Jewish community is widening, consider that 250,000 Israelis attended the funeral yesterday of a revered 102-year-old Torah sage in Jerusalem who is virtually unknown to American Jews outside the Orthodox world.
It was deeply frustrating, though not surprising, to see The New York Times, in its high-profile coverage this past week of abuse in the ultra-Orthodox community, neglect to credit The Jewish Week — or The Forward — for taking the lead in reporting on these issues for years.
FaceGlat, the ultra-Orthodox social networking site, is an attempt to offer Haredi Jews the experience of Facebook without all the immodesty. From the opening page it reminds one of public restrooms with a sign for men to enter through one door and women to enter through their own door. FaceGlat's name is a mashup of Facebook and glatt, the term for kosher meat considered to be a higher standard of kosher because of the source animal's smooth lungs.
Late last year, Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) rabbis banned the popular blog Voz Iz Neias and even went so far as to try to have it taken down. Now, FailedMessiah.com reports that the Agudath Israel of America's Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah has issued a ban prohibiting its adherents from using the Internet without a filter.