The demonstrations occur on the first day of each Hebrew Month, and today is Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, the first day of the month of Cheshvan. There was a demonstration this morning, but it was more than a mere demonstration. There were fisticuffs with men and women holding Torahs.
This morning at 6:30 am, Jerusalem time, the Women of the Wall assembled at the Western Wall. The Women of the Wall is a group of progressive Jewish Israeli women, commonly joined by visitors, which has gathered at the Western Wall for years to promote egalitarian openness in worship at our holiest site. Some mornings they have had lovely, spiritual worship, and at other mornings they have been met by police or demonstrators. Today was one such morning. Today was ten months since the Netanyahu administration completed an agreement with the Progressive Jewish community – the Reform and Conservative Movements – to create a third section at the Wall Plaza where men and women can gather together, instead of separate men’s and women’s sections as we have had for decades. And, apparently, that agreement has been shunted aside, causing unrest and tension in Israel. This morning, the leaders of the Movements joined the Women of the Wall and carried Torah scrolls to the Western Wall Plaza, where they were met by opponents who tried to physically block them or to wrest the Torahs from them.
Yes, it was provocative, and yes, it is a sad blemish on the Jewish community. And, it may usher in a new chapter in the relations within our community, between Progressive Jews and the very Orthodox, between Israeli and Diaspora Jewry. Below is a link to media coverage, with photographs and video of the altercation. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.750459
I hope that we’ll have the opportunity to discuss this, and to discuss the meaning of Israel, and of progressive values in Israel. In the meantime, I hope I can help you will stay informed of these matters.
Rabbi Douglas Kohn