I’ve written before about how outrageous it is that Jewish women are not allowed to worship equally at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the most holy site in Judaism.
Kowtowing to ultra-Orthodox Jews, the Israeli government prohibits women from chanting Torah at the Kotel (wall). Last month the police went a step further and arrested one of the leaders of Reform Judaism in Israel simply for holding a Torah in the vicinity of the Wall.
JTA, a Jewish news service, reported that:
The chairman of the Women of the Wall was banned from the Western Wall for 30 days after being arrested for holding a Torah scroll at the site.
Jerusalem police arrested Anat Hoffman on Monday morning following the monthly women’s Rosh Chodesh prayer service. She was … ordered to stay away from the Kotel for the next 30 days.
According to the organization’s account, Hoffman, holding the Torah scroll, was leading about 150 women from the women’s section of the Western Wall in a procession toward Robinson’s Arch, where they are permitted to use the Torah scroll. Police tried to remove the Torah scroll from Hoffman’s arms and arrested her for not praying according to the traditional customs of the Western Wall.
“Not praying according to the traditional customs of the Western Wall” — a crime! Pretty depressing. But here’s the good news:
WOW is asking Jewish women around the world to take photographs of themselves holding, chanting or studying Torah, and then send those photos to the Israeli government.
Apparently the Israeli media tend to portray Women of the Wall as a handful of wacko extremists. The campaign is intended to show that, far from being a tiny minority, these brave activists speak for the vast majority of Jewish women around the world. WOW’s goal is to collect 10,000 photos by the time of Simchat Torah (Oct. 1), the holiday when we start the annual cycle of reading through the Torah.
I was delighted to find that my congregation, Temple Sinai, was on top of the WOW photo campaign even before I managed to get to this blog. On Friday during services Rabbi Andrea Berlin explained the issue, and afterwards congregant Dawn Kepler snapped pictures of Sinai women with the Torah.
Recognize anyone in the following photos?
Yeah! I’ve got six months to go until my Bat Mitzvah date. But I can still be a Torah Pin-Up Girl For Justice. (My term, not WOW’s. Don’t wanna get them in further trouble.)
You can too. Check out the WOW site, take part in services at your local shul, and send in your own Torah Pin-Up Girl photo.
And hey… it makes a pretty good Facebook profile photo too.