July 17, 2015
Women of the Wall board member Rachel Cohen Yeshurun was arrested in the women’s section of the Kotel on July 17, 2015 Rosh Hodesh Av. Yeshurun entered the Westen Wall plaza and the women’s section with the Torah and was then interrogated by a representative of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. The police were then called and Yeshurun was handcuffed and the officers seized the Torah and removed them both from the Kotel.
Some 300 WOW supporters gathered to pray for the start of the Jewish month of Av and were met by about 100 ultra-Orthodox protesters. Men yelled and cursed at WOW women and male supporters, while a few ultra-Orthodox women blew whistles and held signs in opposition to the group’s prayers.
Women of the Wall also reported being delayed and harassed at the security entrance by Western Wall Heritage Foundation staff.
Rachel Cohen Yeshurun said of the ordeal, “I’m disappointed that the government of Israel lacks the courage to stand up to Haredi political pressure. Only in Israel can Jews be handcuffed and dragged away for wanting to read Torah.”
Anat Hoffman, Women of the Wall chair, said, “This is exactly what Rabbi Rabinowitz wants- for the Israeli public to equate a woman with a Torah scroll to a terrorist with a gun.”
According to the 2013 District Court decision, women are permitted to read Torah at the Kotel. Regulations passed by Rabinowitz currently attempt to prevent women from accessing Torah scrolls at the public holy site.