The Movement for Reform Judaism would like to thank the President of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, for writing to the Israeli Ambassador to the UK raising the violent harassment faced by women worshippers at the Kotel (Western Wall) recently.
A group of ultra-Orthodox men destroyed 39 Siddurim as Women of the Wall, a feminist group, attempted to pray with a Torah at the Kotel. Rabbi Miriam Berger of Finchley Reform Synagogue commented on the incident, “When some Jews see these scenes they will be shocked by the images of siddurim being torn up by those who claim piety, I am much more concerned by the lack of respect for fellow Jews each made B’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. Only a matter of weeks ago Israelis of every denomination, colour and gender where fearing for their lives against rocket attacks from Hamas. We do not need division and hatred within our midsts. We need to respect each other for the Jews we are, protecting each other and seeing the common goal of being partner in creating the world that our shared heritage depicts.”
We are glad the Board of Deputies have raised this as a serious issue and hope Tzipi Hotovely will convey to the Israeli government the feelings of British Jews that such incidents have no place in modern Israeli society. We echo the call for both police at the Kotel to do more to protect Women of the Wall, and for an egalitarian section of the Kotel to be created urgently.
You can read Marie van der Zyl’s letter here.