Original Women of the Wall call to end using Wall for prayer

In court, the O-WOW attorney says, in effect, that the Kotel should be a tourist site, not a prayer site.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Women of the Wall
Women of the Wall
Photo: Corinna Kern/Flash90

In court last week, Dr. Susan Weiss, attorney for the “Original Women of the Wall” (O-WOW), admitted that advocating for women’s rights is not the main objective of the group.

She explained that the agenda of O-WOW is, in effect, to force change upon the entire way the Western Wall has been run since its liberation in the 1967 War.

This is also in contradiction to the way prayers were held there before 1949 when Jews were allowed to go to the site to pray - except for the periods when the Turks and British did not allow separating men from women with a partition.

When the “Center for Women’s Justice” filed suit last year on behalf of O-WOW, their stated claim was that the women of O-WOW merely wanted to pray in their own fashion -- including reading from a Torah scroll in the women’s section. Preventing them from doing so, they argued, violated Israel’s antidiscrimination laws.

Their day in court revealed a different interest. Judge Elyakim Rubenstein asked their lead attorney, Dr. Susan Weiss, what sort of alternative site might be acceptable to the group. She replied that in her view, none was necessary. Rubenstein then asked what she would do, were it up to her. Her response was:

"In actuality, there wouldn’t be a Mechitzah (gender divider partition, ed.) there at all, and I would send all of them to their synagogue. Perhaps I would earmark certain hours for them… It needs to be a public plaza. 'All of them' includes both observant women and those women who want to wear tzitzis (ritual fringes)."

She went on to say that the Western Wall is not a synagogue, and should not be treated that way. Rather than arguing that women should have Torah scrolls at the Wall, she in essence argued that no one should. Orthodox men, too, would not pray if there is no partition.

Leah Aharoni is co-founder of Women For the Wall, an organization created by women who pray at the Wall regularly and object, as do many others including haredi and religious Zionist women, to the disturbances created by O-WOW and Women of the Wall (WOW). "This confirms what we have said from the beginning,” she said. “They are not advocating for women's rights. Rather, they want to deny observant Jews the ability to pray at the Wall."

Neither, she argued, is their suggestion offensive only to the observant Jews who stream to the Wall on a daily basis. “For most visitors,” she said, “the idea that they can go to the Wall at any hour of the day or night, any time of the year, and find people pouring out their hearts to G-d... that is a critical part of the experience."

This experience would be denied to millions of Jews, if the members of O-WOW were to have their way.

Correction: Arutz Sheva wishes to clarify that the organization whose actions are described in the article is called Original Women of the Wall and is not the same as the Women of the Wall, although it uses a similar name.