Thursday, March 14, 2013

Female Israeli MKs join Women of the Wall; no arrests for first time in months

Female Israeli MKs join Women of the Wall; no arrests for first time in months

MKs Stav Shaffir, Tamar Zandberg, and Michal Rozin join Anat Hoffman in donning prayer shawls at Jerusalem's Western Wall.
By Jonathan Lis |

Anat Hoffman, MK Stav Shaffir, and MK Tamar Zandberg at the Women of the Wall prayer service.
Photo by Michal Fattal

Three female Knesset members participated in a prayer service held by the Women of the Wall in the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem on Tuesday morning.

According to the legislators, their participation in the prayer service prevented the arrest of other women who came to worship. This marks the first time in many months in which no arrests were made at a Women of the Wall event.

The three women - MK Stav Shafir (Labor), MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), and MK Michal Rozin (Meretz), confronted policemen who tried to prevent their entry into the area with prayer shawls – an accouterment traditionally used by men only – in their possession.

“At first they tried to stop us from entering the Wall Plaza on the grounds that we constitute a disturbance of public order but there is nothing that 100 women armed with prayer shawls can’t do," Shaffir said. "Surrounded by police, both male and female, and to the shouts of the ultra-Orthodox men and blasts of the ram’s horn from the other side of the fence – we stood facing the Wall and we prayed."

According to Zandberg, they fought with the police at the site and refused their demand to leave the prayer shawls outside the compound.

“I demand to enter. The extremist stream’s interpretation of the Holy Places Law is unacceptable to me, and I refuse to leave the prayer shawl outside,” said Zandberg. “I am a secular woman but I identify with these women’s struggle for freedom of expression and religion.”

Shaffir echoed Zandberg's comments. “I don’t usually put on a prayer shawl but I do feel it’s an obligation and a great privilege to stand here and see to it that all the Jews in the world can pray however they desire," she said. "It is untenable for one faction in Judaism to take ownership of the place that is sacred to all the Jews in the world. At a time when there are real disputes among the various streams of Judaism about the right way to worship God, we must remember that more connects us than divides us, and the little we have in our power to do is to enable all men and women to pray to the Creator to the best of their understanding.”

MK Miri Regev (Likud) condemned Shaffir and Zandberg, saying the two have hurt the feelings of the Jewish people.

“Damaging symbols of government and anarchistic actions have for a long time been a national sport among the extreme left in Israel. It is necessary to condemn this despicable behavior that tries to harm the Holy of Holies and hurt the feelings of the Jewish people and the public in Israel.”

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