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Israeli Women Get to Pray in Peace

Things seem to be getting better in Jerusalem, where the group Women at the Wall has been pushing for the right to pray at the Western Wall wearing the traditional prayer shawls that men wear. Just a couple months ago, they were arresting the women, then a court ordered that they be allowed to pray and just a few weeks ago they had to brave a violent mob to do it. But now:

The story of Sunday morning’s events at the Western Wall is that there was no story.

About 300 Women of the Wall prayed in their own way, wrapped in prayer shawls and donning phylacteries, in the main women’s section. Several dozen meters from there, about 200 Haredim demonstrated. Hundreds of police stood between the camps, enforcing the law and keeping alert for friction that never materialized. Even four errant eggs that landed next to the group of men who support the Women of the Wall, and several shouts of “gevalt,” did not disturb the calm.

And the calm was exemplary. When the prayer session ended, Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of Women of the Wall, said that it was “a historic prayer.” In recent months she has repeatedly used the word “historic” to describe the events surrounding her group, and this time she may be right. The women prayed aloud in front of the Kotel, and there was an upheaval of the status quo at the site. They prayed almost undisturbed, closer than ever to the stones of the wall, with a police force protecting their right to pray in their own way, a right which is now anchored in a ruling of the Jerusalem District Court.

This is progress, though if I were those women I would not feel like I’m out of the woods yet. The Haredi are zealots and I would not be surprised to see the violent response ramp up again soon.

Comments

  1. eric says

    I would not be surprised to see the violent response ramp up again soon.

    Neither would I. All these extremist groups tend to share one common opinion: that an omniscient and omnipotent God needs their personal assistance to set things right.

  2. Karen Locke says

    I don’t understand the controversy, but then it isn’t the tradition I was raised in, and I’m a Humanist now. But even when I was a Catholic, I never understood the need to rabidly enforce God’s dictates — wasn’t that his job?

  3. CaitieCat says

    I think it’s a desperation for proof that their god(s) exist(s). Since they can receive absolutely no evidence, these behaviours are their way of both looking for communal reinforcement that they’re not all deluding themselves (spoiling the possibility of concluding anything useful, intentionally, by only asking fellow deluded people), and sort of like the way a puppy will bring things to you to play with, to reinforce its own feeling of belonging, of validation. Like a child at a gift-giving time: “See, God? I’m doing what you said, and I’m being extra-good by policing other people’s behaviour to fit too, can I get some special God-Cookies when I get to Paradise for being so very good?)

  4. raven says

    I think it’s a desperation for proof that their god(s) exist(s).

    Or just plain old tribalism.

    “We hate the same things and the same groups of other people, so we belong to the same tribe.”

    The bible is full of it. Hate the Canaanites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, etc. and, eventually in the New Testament, hate the Jews. What goes around, comes around.

  5. anubisprime says

    Bit of monty pythonesque wisdom going down there…maybe the Haredi are getting a sick sense of humour!

    Rule 2 “Don’t maltreat the “Abos” in any way whatsoever—if there’s anyone watching!”

    Seems a sensible tactic to adopt in this circumstance!….

  6. joachim says

    Of course, if the Arabs could eventually deal a military defeat to the IDF, and occupy all of the land, this problem would go away.

    And, finally, there would be peace in the Middle East.

  7. Chiroptera says

    joachim, #6: Of course, if the Arabs could eventually deal a military defeat to the IDF, and occupy all of the land, this problem would go away.

    I was thinking a couple of 15 Mt nuclear warheads solves any problem.

  8. imthegenieicandoanything says

    While I’m happy to hear this, and laud the Israeli Court for doing the obvious legal AND right thing, I still notice that people are pretending that standing by an old wall and mumbling to themselves under the pretense that the truly awful fictional figure of the Torah is listening seems absolutely ridiculous.

    If they just stood there and thought about Jewish history, now, it’d be just fine.

  9. khms says

    Of course, if the Arabs could eventually deal a military defeat to the IDF, and occupy all of the land, this problem would go away.

    And, finally, there would be peace in the Middle East.

    Just like the peace in Syria.

  10. ianeymeaney says

    This is why it is so important to acknowledge our Judeo-Christian heritage, that we may continue to repress women and treat them like the second-class citizens that they are

  11. dingojack says

    Raven (#4) – don’t forget those bastard Samaritans*!
    Dingo
    ——–
    * Fundies generally do

  12. theguy says

    @6

    I hope you’re not seriously suggesting that. That’s a terrible thing to say.

    And #7′s is even worse.

  13. grumpyoldfart says

    Those women could have done better by applying for a place at a University, rather than battling for the right to bang their heads against a brick wall.

  14. bastionofsass says

    Oh, yay! Now some women get to say useless prayers to a mythological, misogynistic, murderous, abusive jerk of a god while standing in a place and wearing clothes that have significance because men made up some stuff.

  15. Abdul Alhazred says

    I’m having a hard time caring either way about this clash of rival religious fanatics.

  16. =8)-DX says

    @bastionofsass

    Oh, yay! Now some women get to say useless prayers to a mythological, misogynistic, murderous, abusive jerk of a god while standing in a place and wearing clothes that have significance because do whatever the fuck they want, ignoring the fact that some men made up some stuff.

    FTFY

  17. CaitieCat says

    Well said, =8)-DX.

    I thought we were freethinkers, not dogmatic atheists who insist everyone has to agree with us to be respected (not you, Ed, but some of the comments…sheesh).

    These women and their allies have been fighting for something important to them, and an important stick in the eye of institutionalized sexism, and are performing a feminist activist act. They’re hurting no one, but asserting their rights to be equal to any other person. I would be proud to have helped them achieve this, had I been part of the team working on it.

    Why is it we have to sneer when people win the little victories? Yes, we’d rather they gave up the foolish delusions of a sky-wizard who cares what you wear when you mumble to yourself in public.

    But this is an important step in helping to give women who live under Judaism’s influence equality. There’s nothing particularly earth-shatteringly important about women being able to play golf at Augusta, either, but I’m glad some women and their allies fought for that, too.

    Every little piece we make forward in establishing ourselves as equal in the eyes of as many people as possible is a good step, in the same sense that the ACLU will fight for the rights of Klansmen to be disgusting, or the WBC to be revolting.

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