Women of the Wall denied Torah

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Women of the Wall’s Rosh Chodesh service marking the new month of Shevat was delayed slightly last week as about 200 participants waited while some members tried to bring a Torah scroll with them into the Western Wall plaza.

The women were denied permission to bring in their Torah and also were not allowed use of a Torah already at the plaza. Instead, a service was held by the women at the Wall without a Torah scroll, while several members stood outside the plaza holding their Torah.


Under an ordinance, it is forbidden to bring a Torah scroll to the Wall. The rationale for that ordinance came with the comment that there are 300 scrolls at the Wall for public use, so there is no need to bring any in, noted Shira Pruce, director of public relations for Women of the Wall.

“We said great. We are public. We applied. We requested,” use of a Torah, she said, adding, “They said no.”

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“Women are in a Catch 22, and we are trying to break through that Catch 22. We don’t want to break the law. It’s not a law,” Pruce said. She said that it doesn’t have the power of a law.

She continued: “It’s discrimination, an insult to all Jewish women. It’s just discriminatory practice in a public space. This must end.”


According to Pruce, some of their members placed the Torah they use at Robinson’s Arch, the area deemed permissable for egalitarian prayer, and carefully placed it in a duffle bag to carry to the Western Wall. That Torah had only recently been returned to the group after being treated for water damage it received while at the Robinson’s Arch, she said.

It was repaired “with great care and great expense” and was not covered by insurance, Pruce added.
Two months after it was returned, the women walked it over to the security entrance and opened the duffel bag for security. “No. We were not hiding it,” she said. “In order to transport it, we kept it in a duffle bag. We always do that” for protection, especially from the weather, she explained.

“We took it out. We showed it. We didn’t sneak it in at all. We wanted to do it with full disclosure,” she said.

Pruce was adamant in her explanation as Women of the Wall has been accused of not taking care of a Torah and also of trying to smuggle it pass security.

A press release from Women For the Wall, which favors preserving Orthodox Jewish practice and “maintaining the sanctity of the place,” carried the headline, “WOW Carries Sefer Torah in Duffel Bag in Attempt to Bypass Police.”

“The Reform-led Women of the Wall expressed disdain for sacred Jewish objects today, attempting to sneak a Torah scroll past police in a duffel bag,” the press release stated.

Pruce denied that, noting, “If we had cheated, we would have been much more clever than that.” Everyone knows security makes people open their bags, she added.

Women of the Wall has been conducting a monthly prayer service at the Wall for the past 25 years. The group is currently in negotiations with the government concerning the creation of another integrated equal prayer section that is large enough for them to hold their services.

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