Women of the Wall blew a shofar at the back of the Western Wall Plaza and raised a Torah scroll at the plaza’s gate under a heavy police barricade.
The police shielded the the estimated 300 women and their male supporters on Wednesday morning at the back of the plaza, facing the wall but distant from it, during Women of the Wall’s monthly Rosh Chodesh service.
The Haredi Spring is coming to an end — and not a moment too soon. In the recent election in Israel, the majority rose up and called a halt to the process of haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, Jews playing a dominant role in the government coalition while resisting national service. Requirements for army service and incentives to work instead of living on welfare are now being discussed in the Knesset. The haredim have reacted by insisting that their way of life and privileges were sacrosanct and could not be reined in by the democratic process. In truth, they have never seemed comfortable with real democracy.
Maybe I could oversleep. Does public transportation even run at 6 a.m.? Or maybe I could convince my friend that she didn’t want to go and use the excuse that I couldn’t go alone. Am I too old to blame my mom for not letting me go? All valid (kind of) reasons why I could theoretically miss this morning’s Rosh Chodesh Tammuz prayers with Women of the Wall.
Israel’s chief rabbis received death threats in letters to their offices warning them to allow the Women of the Wall to pray “in accordance with our customs.”
The letters, headlined “This is a last warning,” were delivered Monday to the offices of Rabbi Yona Metzger and Rabbi Shlomo Amar. A complaint was filed with the security officer of the Prime Minister’s Office.
In all of the storied history of the Jewish people, there was no single event that had greater short and long-term consequences than the revelation of Torah at Sinai.
The festival of Shavuot, which we celebrated this week, marked the anniversary of that extraordinary (in both the literal and figurative senses of the word) day. It encouraged us to recall, or recreate, if you will, the power, majesty and mystery of that luminous moment when God and humanity communed as one. The world would never be the same thereafter.