Five Women Arrested At Israel’s Western Wall

Western Wall

Five women have been arrested at Israel’s holiest place, the Western Wall.  The brick wall is the last remaining structure of the biblical Second Temple.  Jews go their to pray and place notes in the wall, essentially ask for God’s help and blessings.  But there is a bitter struggle taking place in Israel between the ultra orthodox and the more moderate and liberal Jewish sects.  In an effort to demonstrate their independence and as a protest against tradition, a group of approximately one hundred-twenty women gathered to pray on the women’s side of the wall.  That in and of itself is not an issue but they wore traditional prayer items, worn only by men.  They include the prayer shawl or Talit, Phylacteries or Teffilin, which are worn on the forehead and arm and skull-cap or Kepah. According to reports, approximately one hundred Orthodox men heckled the women along with one woman.  In response, the praying women, five of whom were arrested, vowed to hold a prayer service there every month.  There is a bitter struggle in Israel taking place between the staunch religious conservatives and the more liberal Jewish groups.  This is another example of the problem with religious fanaticism or any fanaticism.   What’s so ironic is the control the Orthodox are attempting to legislate by force is no different from the force that Hitler legislated by force.  Extremism is never a good thing.  However, if one reads and accepts the words as written, there is clarity that men are responsible for the study and for carrying out the praying for the family.  In fact, one of the Jewish morning prayers loosely translates to, “thank you God for not making me a woman”.  What it means is, thank you God for making me a man so that I may be responsible for carrying out your Commandments.  It in no way means women are less than men.  In fact, in Judaism there are many examples of important and strong women, i.e. Sarah, Rachel, and Esther.  But the important lesson to be learned from this story is if there is a threat to the sovereignty and survival of Israel, it won’t come from outside her borders.

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