Regarding the weekly Judaism column written by Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites: It upsets me greatly to see his name appear each week, teaching Torah to the readers. For a while, I stopped buying The Jerusalem Post, and when I do, I can’t bear to read his column. On October 12, the quote, in large letters, caught my eye: “Any person of any race, religion or gender is holy, and harm to him or her is defiling the sacred.”
Rabinowitz, chairman of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, delegitimizes Women of the Wall, their way of praying and, indeed, their sincere intention for prayer. So a statement like that is cynical and hypocritical. Each Rosh Hodesh, he does not stop the provocations against Women of the Wall; his staff of ushers stands around, sometimes taking pictures and videos.
Young girls, women of all ages, and men from their side of the divider shout, curse and blow whistles throughout the service. After the service, we are escorted out by the police, as many people seek to harm us. A few months ago, I alerted the police to a boy who took out a Swiss Army knife. The harm to Women of the Wall isn’t the only damage; encouraging young girls (and boys) to skip school for the “value” of instilling hatred is even more harmful to those impressionable minds.
When men in power are confronted by strong women who challenge their viewpoint, credibility or abuse of power, those men use various means to try to delegitimize those women; accusation of creating confrontation is but one of many. Those men’s judgment is according to their egocentric worldview. (“Women wanting to pray in a women’s quorum couldn’t possibly be sincere; they just want attention.”)
Women of the Wall has been praying at the Kotel on Rosh Hodesh at 7 a.m. for the last 30 years. To say that its members arise early in the morning each month for 30 years just to cause provocation is absurd.
Delegitimization is a pathetic substitution for legitimate discourse. I hope our society does better, for all of our sakes. LINDA AVITAN Rehovot The writer is co-chairwoman of Congregation Adat Shalom-Emanuel.