W4W to WOW: Don’t use Torah Scroll “to Protest”

Call for WOW not to use Torah Scroll “to Protest”

JERUSALEM, Israel, August 4 — In advance of the first day of Elul on Wednesday, August 7, leaders of the thousands-strong Women For the Wall called upon everyone visiting the Western Wall to abstain from confrontations, raucous behavior and political theater.

This month, the Women Of the Wall have announced their intent to bring a Torah scroll to hold outside Dung Gate “to protest,” and a Shofar to be blown to “Stand Up Against Bullying and Injustice.” Traditionally, the Torah scroll is treated with tremendous reverence, and moved from its Ark only in preparation to read it, while the Shofar is intended to mimic the tones of crying, to pierce Jewish hearts in anticipation of the Day of Judgment.

“We are deeply saddened that the Reform-led Women Of the Wall would use a holy site and holy articles, and disrespectfully use a sacred Torah scroll to advance their political agenda,” said Ronit Peskin, co-founder of Women For the Wall. “We are calling upon them to refrain from provocation, and upon those who wish to honor thousands of years of tradition at the site to respond with prayer and sanctification of G-d’s name.”

“It is shocking that WOW would use a Torah Scroll in a protest,” added Leah Aharoni, co-founder of Women For the Wall. “This represents a lack of respect to the Torah and to Jews who have treasured it for thousands of years. We call on WOW to reverse this terribly misguided decision, and on Jewish leaders from across the spectrum to speak out against this grossly provocative and disrespectful act.”

For many years, the small band of Women Of the Wall have faced off against the regular worshipers, primarily young men, some of whom have responded to WOW’s provocations with inappropriate behavior. In recent months, the presence of Women For the Wall has demonstrated that there is another and better way to respond — so much so that last month, the Women Of the Wall resorted to crowding against the police and barriers in order to provoke a louder reaction.

Women For the Wall requested that everyone coming to the Wall act with dignity and respect, and neither create nor respond to provocative acts. They singled out young men and boys, requesting they stay home if they will react with anger to the misuse of holy objects announced by Women Of the Wall. “These foolish boys are the unwitting allies of Women Of the Wall, and their best PR tool,” Aharoni said. “Screaming and violence do not belong at the holy site. The Kotel is not the place for a media circus or standoffs between Jews.”

Women For the Wall is a grassroots movement of Jewish women, dedicated to ensuring that the Western Wall can be a place for all Jews to come and pray with respect and dignity. It believes that only by preserving classical Jewish practice at the Wall can it be a place where all Jews are truly welcome.