I was extremely disappointed to read the condescending piece by Rabbi Shafran about Women of the Wall (“Halachah must rule at Western Wall, but empathy most important factor,” AJP, 1/11/13). I have been a supporter of Women of the Wall for years. The group’s actions are not “antics” nor are the actions of Reform and Conservative women “misguided.” Indeed, numerous Orthodox Jews support Women of the Wall. It is shocking that Jewish women have been arrested and taken to jail for wearing a tallit and saying prayers at a public holy space in Israel.
The article neglects to mention that Prime Minister Netanyahu appointed Natan Sharansky to come up with a plan for equality at the Wall, in response to the all male Orthodox Committee overseeing the Wall (see related story, page 11).
“The prime minister thinks the Western Wall has to be a site that expresses the unity of the Jewish people, both inside Israel and outside the state of Israel,” Ron Dermer, Mr. Netanyahu’s senior adviser stated to the New York Times (12/25/12 ).
A main argument could easily be rectified: If there were specific times for women to pray at the wall as they see fit, men who don’t want to hear women’s voices could choose not to go to the Wall at such times.