Chicago Jewish News: The Other Side of the Wall

by Pauline Dubkin Yearwood
Chicago Jewish News

Public speaking is not Peskin’s natural element, she readily admits. She’s more comfortable sharing a recipe for homemade play-dough or curried turnips on her blog, Penniless Parenting, but she took on a new challenge because she felt so strongly about it, she says.

She felt compelled to start the organization, Peskin said in a recent conversation from her home outside of Jerusalem, because “I had been bothered for a while by what Women of the Wall was doing. I was basically hoping the government would take care of the issue, but when they rejected a compromise that was offered, I thought people on the ground needed to take action.”

“They say they are about equality, but it’s not about equality, it’s about respecting the traditions of” the Kotel, she says. All holy sites, including the Vatican, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, El Aqsa Mosque and the Kotel have different rules for men and women that are designed to protect the sanctity of the site,” Peskin says.

“You can pray at Robinson’s Arch” – a site adjacent to the Kotel where both women and men traditionally worship – “and it’s the same Kotel,” she says.

“Women of the Wall is going on international media and trash-talking Orthodox Jews, traditional Judaism and Israel,” she says. “They compare traditional Jews to rapists and Israel to Saudi Arabia, where there is no freedom of religion and women have no rights.”

She says she fears that the group will have a negative effect on Americans’ perception of Israel.

“We’re very concerned because we know there is a large problem with Jewish people in the United States feeling very disconnected from their Judaism, and one thing that keeps them connected is their connection to Israel. When (Women of the Wall) tells people on their speaking tours to stop visiting Israel and give all your money to us so we can fight against the Israeli government, it ruins people’s connections to Judaism.”

Read the full article at Chicago Jewish News.