This week brought with it more attempts to vilify Women of the Wall and protect the Western Wall as accessible for ultra-Orthodox prayer exclusively. The Jerusalem Police recommended this week that the Ministry of Justice press charges against Anat Hoffman for the felony of “gravely obstructing a police officer in the performance of his duties”, in regards to her July arrest while holding a Torah at the Western Wall. The sentence for such a conviction is up to 3 years in prison. Members and supporters of Women of the Wall in Israel and abroad stand behind Hoffman, and have been busy sending hundreds of letters and pictures of women holding the Torah to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Head of the Opposition Tzipi Livni, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi in charge of the holy places. In these letters, women from all over the world ask Israeli leaders, “How is it that as Jewish women, we are free in Berlin, in Rome, and in Chicago, while in Jerusalem it is illegal and profane for us to read from the Torah?” Supporters are encouraged to continue to send letters and pictures from the website, http://womenofthewall.org.il/solidarity/take-a-stand, conveying a clear message to Israel’s leaders that Women of the Wall will not be intimidated or silenced.
In response to Women of the Wall’s twenty year battle to read Torah on the women’s side of the Western Wall, Rabbi Rabinowitz issued a new regulation, giving him sole and complete control over who is permitted to enter the Western Wall Plaza with a Torah. This new dictatorial procedure extends the blockade against entering to the holy site with a Torah to not only women, but also men who might be determined unfit to carry a Torah by the extremist Rabinowitz. Adv. Nira Azriel is preparing a statement on behalf of Women of the Wall to the authorities regarding the unreasonable strictness of the new regulations, which promise to worsen conditions for women even further.