Israel, Justice, Politics, Religion, Sex & Gender

Woman Arrested For Wearing Tallit at the Kotel

nashotNofrat Frenkel, a medical student from Beersheva, was arrested for wearing a tallit at a gathering of Women of the Wall at the Kotel (Western Wall) today. (That’s not a picture of her–that’s some other folks from Women of the Wall.)
Here are the Haaretz and JTA reports.
The stam (anonymous voice) of Menachot 43a tells us that “Everyone is obligated in tzitzit–Priests, Levites and Israelites, converts, women and minors.” The Rambam tells us that if women want to wrap themselves in tzitzit, we do not protest. The Shulchan Aruch says that women and slaves are exempt from tzitzit, and the commentator the Rema says that, nevertheless, if they wish to wrap themselves and say the blessing, it is permissible as with all positive time-bound commandments. R. Moshe Feinstein says that “women are permitted to perform even mitzvot from which they are exempt by the Torah, and they get a mitzvah and a reward upon performing them…. and if so, also regarding tzitzit it is appropriate for a woman who wants to wear a garment that is different from a man’s clothing but has four corners, that she put on tzitzit and fulfill this mitzvah.”
The theocracy in Israel is not about the love of and service to God.

27 thoughts on “Woman Arrested For Wearing Tallit at the Kotel

  1. Does anybody else think the massive press this story got (most emailed story on ynet, nrg, cover of Ha’aretz) will be particularly good for liberal Judaism? Hoping to find the silver lining.

  2. The arrest of Nofrat Frankel, a committed member of the Masorti Movement is outrageous. How can a woman suffer arrest for simply praying in keeping with the norms of Masorti Judaism and in a manner acceptable to the majority of world Jewry. This davening was not mixed- but women only.
    Over the past two weeks the disgusting display of bullying by the Haredi community at the Kotel has gone beyond anything we have ever seen.
    For the first time, there is now a passage that allows men to walk directly to the men’s section, thus bypassing the mixed plaza area.
    During his weekly sermon, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef scolded the ‘stupid women who come to Western Wall, don a prayer shawl, and pray.’
    The so-called Rav HaKotel ( a title he assumed – the law recognizes only a civil servant who is the “Authority for Holy Places) referred to the women as ”
    Korah and his assembly” (who suffered the penalty of death).
    The organization “The Kotel Heritage Foundation, which is not an arm of the government imposes upon women to cover their legs and shoulders with Shmates. They have become the modesty police.
    All of this has set the stage for the Haredi community present at the Kotel to feel empowered and as having the authority to act out as hooligans.
    Of course all of this comes only days after Haredi riots at the site of the Intel plant in an industrial Jerusalem area.
    The Haredim are running roughshod in the streets of Jerusalem and in its Holy places. Such lawlessness must be taken seriously and the perpetrates of incitement must be dealt with severely.

  3. There’s one basic fact that everyone seems to get backwards in this story. Nofrat was NOT arrested for wearing a Tallit. There are hundreds of people wearing Tallitot at the Kotel.
    She was arrested for being a woman.
    Let us make no mistake about that.

  4. Uhm. Nofrat wasn’t arrested. She was detained, questioned and released. No charges were pressed. The reason for her detention and questioning had something to do with the alleged violation of norms of conduct as determined by Israeli courts. Just adding in a point of information there.

  5. It’s hard to believe that there was a time when secular Israelis actually lived in the Old City. Those days are over, though, and the Kotel has become the world’s largest Heredi synagogue.

  6. Igros Moshe for tallit, not sure for tallit kattan. The issue may be brachah, but for Ashkenazim rav Moshe says it’s ok. Dunno the exact tshuvah, check yad moshe

  7. I called the police spokesman. He told me that she was not arrested and that no charges were pressed. That’s what the po po told me. Do you think he lied?

  8. To CK: Cut the crap and stop trying to prove just how right you are. If you stop thinking in American terms and begin to think in Israeli terms you would better understand.
    In Israel the police may make an arrest by saying “Ata Atzur.” “You are under arrest.” There are no Maranda rights.
    Then there is something called Amida L’Din. This would be the pressing of charges. Thus far no charges have been pressed. The police did question Nofrat. They still, in theory could press charges.
    So she was arrested but she has not been charged with a crime.
    She now has an arrest record (which has little significance unless she repeats the offense).

  9. Thanks Meyer Enayim for that completely unnecessary lesson in Hebrew. And uhm, Israeli law. But again, I asked police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld point blank if she had been arrested. I asked him more than once. Every time he stated specifically in English that she had been merely detained. Confusion might arise because in Hebrew “detention” and “arrest” are the same word – namely ???? or Ma’atzar. Regardless of that, he also stated that the Police have no intention of pressing charges against her. And yes, the police in Israel are not obligated to give a Miranda warning upon an arrest or in a custodial situation prior to interrogation. There is also no 4th Amendment freedom against “unreasonable” search and seizure. Because Israel isn’t the United States. Thanks again for pointing out the obvious. The only lasting effect of this incident is that Nofrat signed a document agreeing not to go to the Kotel for two weeks, an agreement she willingly signed because it does not interfere with her plans to worship at the Kotel next rosh chodesh (Kislev) when the Women of the Wall will meet on Friday December 18th at 7 am.
    Be there or be square!

  10. There are no Maranda rights.
    That’s pure hogwash. The right to remain silent and a right to an attorney exist in Israel. What you probably mean is that the officer does not have to read the rights to the arrested in order for the arrest to take effect.

  11. There is also no 4th Amendment freedom against “unreasonable” search and seizure
    Again, where do you get your information? THere is no fourth amendment, but that doesn’t mean ISraeli police can search any premesis and sieze whatever they like whenever they feel like it.

  12. To Amit: FACT-There are NO Miranda rights. Israel does not have a constitution and the law does not give detainees the same rights as they have in the States.
    One may be held for several days (as was the case with Title – the man accused of bombing the Messianic and of murdering others)without access to a lawyer.The police may complete questioning BEFORE allowing a lawyer to meet with their client.
    The police may question a person under “azhara” (essentially a warning that what they say may be used against them) without an attorney present.
    One has the right to remain silent but the police are NOT obligated to warn you of this right.
    Regarding the right to an attorney: If one can not afford a lawyer, the court only will appoint one is cases that involve a prison punishment of in excess of several years and not most simple criminal cases.
    Again- there are NO Miranda rights.
    Evidence gathered in an illegal search (e.g. without a warrant) IS admissible. The concept of “fruit of the poisoned tree” does NOT apply in Israel. One may issue a complaint of an improper search, but the evidence is in.

  13. I think the conversation about what, precisely, happened to the woman in question is really extremely beside the point. The woman was atzura (see? I avoid the controversy altogether!) for wearing a Jewish prayer shawl at a Jewish prayer site.
    This seems like an obvious time to bash the ultra-Orthodox stronghold in Israel, and I wouldn’t disagree. I wonder, though, if this might not provide an(other) occasion to think about the problems that fundamentally arise in the attempt to have a “Jewish state.”

  14. Evidence gathered in an illegal search (e.g. without a warrant) IS admissible
    That’s true in most Western countries, btw. (the U.S. is an exception.)

  15. Back to the halachic discussion: the sources cited by Danya are fascinating and should be read by all (especially by the Jerusalem Haredim!!). I add that in Menahot 43a, not only is there a “Tanu Rabanan” that women are obligated to put in tzitzit, but Rav Yehuda is portrayed as himself tying on tzitzit to the garments of the women in his household!!

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