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Saturday, March 23, 2013 

Uneven argument about Women of the Wall

A writer for the Jerusalem Post named Keren Sper-Hirschhorn wrote about the Women of the Wall. She has some legitimate points, but also flubs a few others:
WoW is one of the most controversial “women’s rights” groups; its members have been arrested for taking on men’s traditional clothing and customs at the Western Wall (Kotel). They are obviously not haredi women, but seemingly wanting to take on haredi traditions, they blatantly disrespect traditional Jewish customs in the holiest place of worship for many Jews.

They seem more intent on making a statement than actually praying. They are so intent on getting their presence known, judging by their elaborate website and media coverage. At the end of the day it’s between you and G-d; not a show for everyone else.
Granted, it's correct that WoW do seem more interested in garnering media publicity than anything else. But is that reason to arrest them? And is the Western Wall solely the property of Orthodox Judaism? My grandparents usually adhered to Conservative Judaism, and while that sect's women usually don't concern themselves about wearing tefillin and prayer shawls more commonly worn by men, I will say that if I caught any Orthodox Judaist - haredi or otherwise - calling my grandmothers "filthy" or denying them the right to pray according to Conservative customs at the Western Wall, would that they were alive today, I would be very, VERY angry.

Sper-Hirchhorn hasn't addressed whether the police should be busting WoW solely on the basis of wearing men's prayer gear. If it's a case of disturbing the peace by being loud, that's understandable, but using men's gear is trivial by comparison.

Here's a better part, but it still has what to shake heads at:
These women would not likely go to a Muslim holy site and start singing “Shema Yisrael,” so why can’t they respect religious Jews as well? Oh yes, because they actually have the freedom in Israel to make a stink about everything. Israel has enough problems, and as a woman I can say this does not help Israel or women, but maybe only helps these individuals by stroking their own egos.
Bullseye! I was thinking that too at times. The serious drawback working against WoW is that they've never joined forces or offered help to Temple Mount Faithful. But why are the WoW required to respect religious Jews when it's only the most cynical Haredis who have a problem, but not the other way around?
Don’t get me wrong, I do not feel spiritually superior; I am only taking opinions from a couple thousand years of tradition. It seems many leftist thinkers seem to know better. Meanwhile they have helped Israel become weaker and more hated. Let’s make one thing clear: At the Wall, women are allowed to pray. The Torah gives men certain separate mitzvot (some for women are even considered more important). I’m not a rabbi nor am I haredi... I just respect those that are. In my opinion, a holy place should not be a stage for political agendas. There is a certain code of conduct at holy sites. If Joe Shmoe wants to chant and run around in his underwear at the Kotel, should he be allowed to just because it is his way of connecting spiritually? We may have a bigger problem on our hands than women in prayer shawls, but a line must be drawn somewhere.

I too question and dispute much of the haredi lifestyle, but on the other hand I respect them. They stick to the laws of the Torah and it’s a slippery slope once you think you can start changing the rules. We don’t all have to abide by them (I certainly have not) but I will not figuratively spit in the faces of those that do. I feel WoW to be doing this and therefore do not support them on their “mission.” I of course do not support the literal spitting of some haredim at these women. Their obvious frustration has unfortunately led them to express themselves in inappropriate ways. Haredim do not own the Wall but they certainly have earned the right to dictate what religious standards should be, and what the standards of conduct should be, in the holiest place of worship for all us Jews.
Whoa, is this as clumsy as can get? I'm sorry, but being Haredi alone does not make one qualified to determine what's right for Judaism or the Western Wall, and despite what she says, many Haredis don't uphold the Torah as well you'd think. The WoW may be trying to make political statements rather than uphold the rights of other sects of Judaism, but to say that the Haredis are justified in every way, shape and form to maintain the Western Wall is ludicrous. I don't think so, and aside from that, as silly as the idea may look to adherents of Orthodox Judaism to wear religious gear more for men, antagonizing the WoW over that is trivial compared to the problems we have with the Islamic Wakf dominating the Temple Mount and the police running thought control over Jewish visitors there.

Sper-Hirchhorn's description of how the Haredis who hate the WoW has led them to sadly resort to spitting and obscenities sounds almost like she's being soft on them instead of making clear that there's a certain statement in the Torah/Bible reading as "life and death are in the hands of the tongue". And while it's true that the left has led to hatemongering, that doesn't mean the right is any less guilty, if it's going to allow Haredis to dictate who's worthy or not. This is just why I'm glad the Haredi political parties are in the opposition now; they've done everything possible to deserve it.

That aside, one of the biggest problems with the Haredi argument against WoW is that their opposition doesn't seem to have anything to do with Reform Judaism's anti-Zionist stance, nor have I heard any of these Haredis voice concern about the abuse the Wakf inflicts upon the Temple Mount, and if not, that makes it a clash between two mindsets that ironically aren't all that different.

My suggestion to the author is to just stick to the argument that WoW are publicity seekers and not worry about whether they should be conforming in every way to what the Haredis think.

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Instead of nitpicking someone else's opinion... which they are allowed to share on an Opd-ED article.... how about getting published in a reputable Newspapers for yourself?

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