Friday, August 9, 2013

Women of the Wall and a Temple Mount protest

Jewish date:  3 ’Elul 5773 (Parashath Shofeṭim).

Today’s holidays:  Feast Day of Teresiae Benedicta of the Cross (Roman Catholicism), Day of Rey Radbod (Germanic Neopaganism), Feast Day of St. Rozencranz/St. Gildenstern (Church of the SubGenius).


I would like to note what happened on Wednesday, or rather what did not happen.  Two events were scheduled:

  1. Wednesday was Ro’sh Ḥodhesh, the start of a new month on the Jewish calendar, in this case ’Elul.  Ro’sh Ḥodhesh is traditionally an extra day off for women.  As such, it has been chosen as the day for a Reform “feminist” group, Women of the Wall, to descend on the Western Wall and to hold services according to Reform norms (women leading services, wearing ṭallithoth and tefillin).  Now, I have witnessed people praying at the Western Wall who were clearly not Orthodox Jews, but always with respect for the other people there and the holiness of the site; in such cases, no one, even Ḥaredhim, complained.  The Women of the Wall are different.  On Ro’sh Ḥodhesh Tammuz (two month ago), the police (in their tradition of sucking when it comes to freedom of religion) evicted many Orthodox Jewish women doing nothing offensive from the women’s section so the Women of the Wall could enter and hold a service, very loudly and trying to get the attention of reporters and promote imposing Reform norms at the Western Wall.  Needless to say, there were a lot of complaints about this.  They also did not have much local support, as nonreligious Israeli Jews tend to be honest about their not being religious rather than try to dress it up as being “Reform”.  A new group was formed of Orthodox Jewish women in opposition to the Women of the Wall:  Women for the Wall.  On Ro’sh Ḥodhesh ’Av (one month ago), the Women for the Wall collectively got up early and got to the Western Wall first, filling up the women’s section.  This time the police actually respected the few thousand women who were already there, and the 150-200 Women of the Wall were forced to be ostentatious and complain in the back of the Western Wall plaza.  I thus wanted to see what would happen in the next round.
  2. The police closed the Temple Mount to Jews for the second half of Ramāḍan, the closure lasting until this coming Sunday.  This was simple caving into Muslims getting violent over Jews on the Temple Mount again, something which I have complained about frequently in the past, both on this blog and on Facebook.  Thus there was a protest scheduled at the (locked) entrance for Jews to the Temple Mount at 7:30 AM.

So what did I see?

  1. I got to the Western Wall around 8:30 AM.  The women’s section was filled with women praying respectfully.  There was no sign of Women of the Wall.  Reportedly pretty much what had happened on Ro’sh Ḥodhesh ’Av had happened this month, too:  Women for the Wall got to the Wall first, and the Women of the Wall had to pray in the back and grumbled about lack of support from other women.
  2. The protest at the entrance to the Temple Mount was going strong at the time and continued for about another hour.  Several dozen Orthodox Jews were there.  Many were praying.  Others had protest signs.  There were a over a dozen police officers there, but they did little but stand around, remove a Torah scroll which had been brought in to read, and ask the protesters not to block foot traffic.  Why there were so many police officers was not explained.  See “Jews protest visitation restrictions at Temple Mount during Ramadan” and “Activists Protest Closure of Temple Mount - Inside Israel” for more details.

In short:  Not much happened.

Peace and Shabbath shalom.