Women of the Wall celebrated Rosh Hodesh (the New Jewish Month) Adar I as well as the bat mitzvah of two girls at the Western Wall today. Over 150 women prayed in the women’s section of the public holy site with no protest, making this month the most peaceful in recent years. The prayer was joyous, with singing and dancing throughout the morning.
Two Israeli girls celebrated their bat mitzvah this morning with Women of the Wall. The young women led prayers, were lifted up on chairs with the shouts of “Mazal Tov” and blessed underneath a canopy, with their mothers watching proudly alongside them. Unfortunately, after months of studying, learning the Torah reading and its blessings, the young girls were denied the right afforded to their male counterparts, the right to read from a Torah scroll at their bat mitzvah. Boys at the Western Wall are ushered into this coming of age ceremony with great fanfare at the Western Wall and they can choose any Torah they please to read from. Women and girls are forbidden access to even one of hundreds of Torah Scrolls held for “public use” at the Western Wall, a discriminatory regulation imposed by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz and strongly opposed by Women of the Wall.
In a letter sent to key supporters this week, Anat Hoffman and the board of Women of the Wall wrote about the current negotiations with Cabinet Secretary Avihai Mendelblit, calling it an “in-depth and significant process”, nearing its end in the coming months. Regarding the ban on women’s access to Torah scrolls they wrote, “We have not and will not give up the Torah and our right to read it properly during our prayers in the women’s section. However, during the negotiations we were asked to hold back and refrain from entering the Western Wall plaza with the Torah scroll. It should be noted that when the negotiations end, we will return to our steadfast pursuit of Torah reading during our Rosh Hodesh prayer, as is customary and permissible in Jewish Law.”
Women of the Wall Board Member, Dr. Ella Kaner said of this morning’s prayer, “We wish for the day when we can do all that we have done today, with the Torah scroll. Only then will our prayer be complete and whole.”
For twenty-five years Women of the Wall has struggled for religious freedom and women’s rights at the Western Wall. As Women of the Wall, our central mission is to achieve the social and legal recognition of our right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall.
Press Contact: Shira Pruce, Director of Public Relations +972 (0)546898351 [email protected]