Published: 21 Jan, 2011
Last Updated: 21 Jan, 2011
“This is not the local custom” Shira shrieks as she tries to rip the Torah scroll from the ‘Women of the Wall’. The police struggle to restrain her as her hands clench around the scroll. “You’re Amalek! You’re Arafat!” Another woman screams. The ultra-Orthodox women have surrounded the group. “They opened a Torah scroll! Why are you standing around?” Chief Rabbi Rabinowitz shouts as he runs into the women’s area; his side-locks trailing behind him. “Forbidden! Women can’t read Torah”. For fifteen years this is the chant the ‘Women of the Wall’ have been facing. This intensity betrays the fact that there is more going on here than sex politics. The Women of the Wall’ are not only fighting a battle of the sexes, they’re fighting the entire weight of Jewish tradition. “How can they be so sure they are right?” Is the question they put to Judaism as they try to change a religion that has enshrined their religious inferiority. “It’s inconceivable that everyone should do as they see fit. It’ll end up a circus!” Is Rabinowitz’s response. The establishment has continually used ridicule and belittlement as tools in the fight against these women’s campaign for change. “We want the scroll of independence, not the dead sea scrolls”, says Anat Hoffman, leader of ‘Women of the Wall’. Each month the cat & mouse games continue with the ultra-Orthodox chasing the women around whenever they dare reveal their scroll, or raise their voices in prayer. Hoffman has been arrested again and is now forbidden from returning to the wall.