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Woman Wearing Tallit Arrested at Western Wall

This was the headline of a JTA dispatch on November 18, 2009. “Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Western Wall rabbi, called the group’s actions Wednesday ‘an act of provocation that seeks to turn the Western Wall into disputed territory’,” the article reported. A medical student from Beersheba was arrested in what is apparently the very first enforcement of this sort to an “act of provocation” that has been going on for decades, both at Robinson’s Arch and right at the Wall itself. Lilith is thrilled that all of Israel’s social, political and military problems have receded to the point where this sort of enforcement is the best use of the country’s time and resources. Good thing there’s nothing else that needs fixing.

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Washington D.C.’s Ohev Shalom — The National Synagogue, recently commented in a sermon to his congregation, “Recently, a woman was arrested for the crime of wearing a tallit — a prayer shawl — at the Western Wall… This woman who wore a tallit woke up that morning at 4:30 for the purpose of praying at the Wall. In the manner in which she prayed she was following the teachings of Rambam, Rabad, Tosafot, and the Chayyei Adam, and for doing so she was arrested. This is a colossal disgrace… And the government of Israel owes her an apology. From now on, when a woman comes to the kotel in a tallit let us recognize that one more mitzvah is being performed and so we are all one step closer to the Gates of heaven opening up completely.”