Statement After WOW’s “Sit-In” at the Kotel

The Western Wall Sit-In organized by the Women of the Wall has proven two things which they have previously denied: that even their “religious” activities are political in nature, and that they do not represent Jewish women.

They initially called a sit-in, and Anat Hoffman shot a video at the Wall in which she repeatedly referred to their sit-in and political action, not to learning. But when we and even some of their own supporters criticized holding a political activity at the Kotel, they rapidly changed their tune, claiming that they would be learning instead. Yet this was soon exposed as another cynical political maneuver; in reality, they slept in sleeping bags at the Holy Site, in the middle of the plaza. This is the reverence that the so-called “Women of the Wall” have for the sacred remnant of the Holy Temple.

Even during the wee hours of the morning, women continued to stream to the site — not in order to support WOW, but on the contrary, in order to pray. At no time, not even at 4 AM, could Women of the Wall claim to represent the majority. For most of the day they were outnumbered by more than (usually far more than) ten to one.

They are stopping early because there is about to be a massive gathering — not for political purposes, but to pray for the speedy healing of the Sage HaRav Ovadia Yosef, the former Chief Rabbi. We, too, pray for his recovery. This is what the current plaza is for: for sincere prayer, not political action.

For those who sincerely wish to pray in an alternate form, you need not come to the place used by those who revere tradition in order to pray at the Kotel. That is what Minister Bennett’s platform is there to provide — for a group far larger than Women of the Wall has ever mustered up.

To our sisters, we say: if you want to continue to fight, so be it. You said that our silence indicated openness to change, and through our sincere prayer at the Wall, we show this is untrue. And if you wish to continue to pray at the back of the plaza and then moan to the press about your “exile,” so be it. But Minister Bennett has offered you a better way, the way of tolerance and peace. We urge you to re-evaluate whether refusal to dialog and refusal to accept compromise is really the only way.