On Friday, on Rosh Chodesh, the Women at the Wall (WoW) show up to pray at the Kotel, wearing yarmulkes, prayer shawls and carrying a sefer Torah. This is despite verbal tirades by ultra-Orthodox men, calling them Nazis and telling them to go to church.
In November, Nofrat Frankel, a conservative Jewish member of WoW, was briefly detained by Israeli police for wearing a talit and carrying a Sefer Torah. While Frankel was let go, the maximum sentence for such an offense is six months in jail, and a fine of about $3,000. Kotel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich called the woman’s action “an unbearable provocation.”
WoW leader Anat Hoffman, protests that there is nothing in Jewish law that supports such sex discrimination, “There is nothing in Judaism about this. This is fundamentalism; it is a desecration of this place.” She failed to cite any scriptural evidence â€“ but we get her drift.
In 2003, the Supreme Court made an official ruling that the Women of the Wall may not have vocal prayers at the Wall.
Peretz Rodman, a more moderate rabbi, compared the detention of Frankel to the religious persecution of Jews in the former Soviet Union:
“An Orthodox rabbinic colleague commented to me on the day of the arrest: ‘That’s what it was like 40 years ago in Moscow: wearing a talit and carrying a Torah in public could get you arrestedâ€¦But that was the Soviet Union, a repressive totalitarian state; this is Israel in the 21st century.”