Feminist provocations have no place in Judaism’s holiest shrine and Israeli security forces have better things to do than deal with pampered American Jewish feminists on a mission of self-actualization
Fridays are always tough in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is the day of the week when many Jews come to pray in the square by the Western Wall of the Second Temple and many Arabs attend Friday prayers in the Al-Aqsa mosque that now stands where the Second Temple stood until it was destroyed and burned down by the Roman in August of the year 70 AD.
Unfortunately, the Arabs more often than not don’t just come to worship. Whipped into a frenzy by sermons filled with hatred for Jews and Israelis in particular, many of them, especially the younger ones, proceed to riot, sometimes violently. The security situation is fraught with danger and it is only God’s will and the excellent work of all the Israeli security forces that are present at the Temple Mount compound every day of the week and especially on Fridays that prevent significant bloodshed.
As if this situation was not bad enough, a group of Israeli feminists, most of them repatriates from America that calls itself “Women of the Wall” periodically decides to add to the already overflowing plate of the security forces by creating unnecessary provocations.
These women, headed by Ms. Lesley Sachs, are members of the Judaism-lite Conservative movement, which is very popular among American Jewry, but virtually non-existent in Israel, except for a few affluent enclaves of repatriated American Jews. Unlike in Orthodox Synagogues, which segregate men and women during services even if by a symbolic 24-inch Plexiglas partition, Conservative synagogues or “temples” as they are often called, allow mixed male and female prayers.
Since the large square at the base of the Western Wall is in fact an open air Orthodox Synagogue, it segregates male and female worshipers and visitors. There is also a tourist area where a mixed crowd can gather. Believing that the area reserved for men is somehow privileged due to its more central location, some American newcomers to Israel have decided to pollute Judaism’s holiest and most historically significant location with their feminist ideals. As such, they have been demonstrating and protesting for the “right” to pray in the area that is reserved for men.
Not only do they wish to pray there, but they wish to do so in a way that is an affront to any Orthodox Jew, even a non-observant one like me. They insist on wearing prayer shawls and skullcaps, both of which are forbidden to women in Orthodox Judaism. No doubt these ladies fancy themselves suffragettes and feminist pioneers in the mold of Gloria Steinem, but in reality they are simply rich and spoiled provocateurs, who for no reason whatsoever disrupt the prayers of those who only come to the Wall to be one with the Shekhina, the Divine Spirit, which we believe still has a warm spot in her heart for her old abode.
Even more egregiously, these women of leisure and wealth make the lives of the Border Guards and the Police Officers who guard the public safety in the compound much harder. Many of these troops are young women and none of them has the luxury of free time for frivolous provocations. What ensues is the spectacle of Ashkenazi Jewish women, rich, spoiled, and selfish, confronting Sephardi and Mizrachi women who are sweating under their bulletproof vests and who stand on their feet for hours with their automatic rifles and battle belts putting their lives on the line so that Jews can worship in peace.
It is clear who among these two groups are women with real courage, with real commitment to service, and with real Jewish souls, and who are empty poseurs in it for their own amusement and instant gratification American style.
Men and women were separated at the Temple, and ever since its ruin they were separated at every synagogue. Rabbinical Judaism that was formed after the calamity of the destruction of the Second Temple is one of the greatest achievements of the human spirit and strict adherence to its rules is the only thing that kept Jews alive through nearly two millennia of exile. It is the only thing that made it possible for them to come back to their homeland. If it weren’t for the stern-faced Orthodox male rabbis through the ages, there would be no “Lesley Sachs”, at least not as a Jew. The fact that she is living in a Jewish state, the fact that she is Jewish, is all because of them. She is who she is, she is what she is, she is where she is, because they refused to bow to the changing winds of time. So let them be, Lesley. Practice your “feminism” on someone else, somewhere else. Oh and those Yeshiva boys you scandalized today? Let them be too.