Sisterhood Blog

Power of the Purse Needed to Change Kotel Policy?

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Women of the Wall

Anat Hoffman’s arrest at the Kotel and alleged rough treatment by Jerusalem police, on October 16, sparked immediate strong reaction among American Jews, though not from every group expected.

Many of those outraged by her arrest — for “disturbing the public order” at Judaism’s holiest site for wearing a tallit and leading other women in prayer — said it should serve as a wake-up call to Diaspora Jews complacent about the treatment of women at a site holy to all Jews. It is treated as an ultra-Orthodox synagogue by those who run it and so does not permit non-Orthodox women to pray at the Kotel in a way that conforms to their own religious practice.

Dan Brown, creator of eJewishPhilanthropy, wrote that Hoffman’s arrest was “a tectonic event” that we will look back on years hence and recognize as “the tipping point on conversations” about “the nature of a democratic society here in Israel.”

In an emphatic article on his site, he excoriated political and organizational Jewish leaders for remaining silent on the issue, and said that “the silence needs to stop.”

Jewish organizations, which can wield impressive influence on the government of Israel when they choose to, have not said what they are willing to do to pressure Israeli officials to change current policies at the Kotel.

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