The Women of the Wall’s Collateral Damage

by Leah Aharoni

Religious freedom and women’s rights are cherished values for us all. It is immoral to manipulate these feelings on an issue that has nothing to do with either. After almost a decade of quiet, Women of the Wall went on an offensive with a well-oiled campaign aimed at furthering the political agenda of its chairperson, Anat Hoffman. In doing so, the organization has stooped to blackening Israel before the international media and driving a wedge between Israel and Diaspora Jewry.

Through its actions, WoW negates the feelings of hundreds of thousands of women, who come to pray there regularly. They revere the traditions of the Kotel and call it their spiritual home. It would behoove a women’s rights group with under 200 worshippers to give at least some consideration to the regular denizens of the Wall. Yet instead of engaging in a respectful discussion with these women, Women of the Wall presume to educate them, “model[ing] to all Jewish women … that women can take control over their own religious lives]” or downright villainizing them as a “psychological lynch-mob” acting at the hands of “their rabbi-handlers.”

By misrepresenting the Israeli reality, Hoffman attempts to undermine the support of American Jewry for Israel. The brunt of damage will affect not Israel, but US Jews. Statistics have shown the emotional identification created by a trip to Israel as the single most potent antidote to assimilation. For many unaffiliated Jews, distant from any religion, the State of Israel is the last anchor of Jewish pride and identity. How many of these Jews do we stand to lose thanks to WoW’s irresponsible politicking?

Read the full article at the Los Angeles Jewish Journal.