Women For the Wall, a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving tradition at the Western Wall in the spirit of Jewish unity, responded forcefully today to Women of the Wall’s intent to escalate the controversy at the Kosel by bringing in a Sefer Torah to Friday’s Rosh Chodesh service.
“I find the use of a Sefer Torah as a PR prop extremely painful,” said Leah Aharoni, co-founder of the Women For the Wall. “The Sages have taught us not to use the Torah as a spade with which to dig, yet this is exactly what is happening here – an insensitive group co-opting religion to promote a political agenda.”
Without media attention, WoW’s numbers have dwindled to barely two dozen attendees. “Women of the Wall claimed to want to pray quietly, but now that peace has been restored, they are trying to reignite controversy,” said Aharoni. “They can read the Torah at the Ezrat Israel section, just a few yards down the same exact Wall, but they are bent on imposing their anti-traditional worldview upon other women.”
“WoW have pulled the wool over the eyes of Diaspora Jewry once again,” added Jenni Menashe, Women For the Wall founding member. “It is not the rights of WOW’s few members that are at issue here, but whether they will trample the rights of thousands of other women to pray in their own space, undisturbed.”
WoW’s “Bus Mitzvah” ad campaign is timed to coincide with Anat Hoffman’s latest fundraising trip to the United States. After being absent from news coverage for close to a year, this has provided WOW with revived visibility. “They found no better way to make news than to ignite a new round of hostilities,” commented Menashe. “The campaign isn’t about Bat Mitzvahs at all, but about their desire to inflict ‘change’ upon the traditional women praying in the space consecrated for traditional prayer – rather than taking their prayers to Ezrat Yisrael, the new space built to meet their needs.”
WoW’s spokeswoman proudly told the media that the “Bus Mitzvah” campaign was meant to be provocative, while the organization’s chair Anat Hoffman said that the ads were pasted “davka” on buses running through religious communities in order to stir a reaction.
Women For the Wall, a grassroots organization committed to preserving the consensus around the Kosel and maintaining the sanctity of the place, is dedicated to ensuring that the Western Wall can be a place for all Jews to come and pray with respect and dignity. It believes that only by preserving classical Jewish practice at the Wall can it be a place where all Jews can be welcome.