Policeman: Open your coat. Is this a shawl you are wearing?
Woman: Are shawls a problem?
Policeman: Shawls are allowed. I am looking for a tallit.
Policeman: As of this morning the Rabbi of the Wall is forbidding tallitot at the Kotel.
Woman: But wait, over there is a man carrying a tallit?
Policeman: The decree applies only to women. Open your bag please. I need to search for a tallit.
Last Friday we saw gender segregation once again rear its ugly head. During a service at the Western Wall four more women were detained. We have seen this many times in the past, but this month the police tried a new tactic. They decided to collect “offensive” religious items from women before they entered the Western Wall complex.
Despite the authorities’ best efforts some women were able to have their tallitot smuggled in by male supporters. The Jerusalem police managed to “protect” the Kotel from Rabbi Elyse Frishman, who is the editor of the Reform prayer book Mishkan Tefila, a board member from Women of the Wall, and two 18-year-old students from the UK in Israel on a NETZER program.
When simple items of Judaica become contraband it’s time to liberate the Kotel.
We need your help to keep up the pressure on the Israeli government to make the Western Wall a home for Jews from all denominations. Add your signature to nearly 30,000 others demanding freedom of worship and pluralism at the holiest site for the Jewish people. Get 10 of your friends to sign. It’s easy. It’s effective.
Image courtesy of Michael Fattal.