The images of Anat Hoffman being led away from the Western Wall are being profoundly misrepresented in the media. Every time Women of the Wall appear in the news, they are presented as a handful of extremist, fanatical and crazy women who are ‘yet again’ provoking a disturbance. But Women of the Wall do not stand alone.
Our daughters and our rabbis, our mothers and our grandmothers, our cantors, our teachers, men and women alike, hold the Torah, read from the Torah, and study the Torah. The sounds of the Women of the Wall do not echo against a silent universe. As they pray, we pray, as they sing, we sing, as they chant, we chant. Daily and weekly, holiday and Shabbat, the voices of millions of women and girls in prayer resound in our synagogues. We pray without disturbance, without fear. Only in Jerusalem do they pray with fear and as criminals.
On September 26, 2010 women of ICCJ came together to take pictures with Sifrei Torah. Our pictures were then sent to:
· Binyamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister
· Rubi Rivlin, Speaker of the Knesset
· Tzipi Livni, Head of Kadima and leader of the opposition
· Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency
· Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites
While not all women at ICCJ choose to carry a Torah, we support the rights of women who want to everywhere.
This was the letter that we sent with the photographs.Shalom, I am writing today to tell you that Women of the Wall are not alone. Our daughters and our rabbis, our mothers and our grandmothers, our cantors and our teachers hold the Torah, read from the Torah, and study the Torah every day. Hundreds of thousands of women and young girls embrace our Torah Scrolls while their prayers reverberate in our synagogues. We pray without disturbance, without fear. Our prayer is seen as normal and accepted. Only in Jerusalem do women pray with fear and only in Jerusalem are women treated as criminals for practicing Judaism. On Rosh Hodesh Av 5770 we experienced unthinkable abuse by the very political and legal system that we, as Jews of the world, established to offer sanctuary and to initiate the renewal of modern Jewish life. How is it that as Jewish women, we are free in Berlin, in Rome, and in Chicago, while in Jerusalem it is illegal and profane for us to read from the Torah? During the days and weeks between the 9th of Av and Simchat Torah we will be sending you pictures from our families, synagogues, and communities. You will see women read, study and embrace Torah Scrolls. On their faces will be joy; not the expression of horror captured by journalists as police took a woman holding a Torah into custody. We ask you to open your eyes and see what is ordinary every place else in the world: women embracing Torah, reading from the Torah, rejoicing with the Torah and learning from the Torah. We ask that you see and be blind no more to the injustice of religious oppression.
Many thanks to Clarissa Weiss, David Schwartz, Marilyn Kaufman and Rabbi Fryer Bodzin for helping with this initiative.
Pictures can be obtained with high resolution from David Schwartz