Jewish prayer books torn up at the Kotel
The Progressive Jewish community in Israel and the Diaspora applauds the Women of the Wall and IRAC for their grit and determination in returning to the Kotel every Rosh Chodesh to celebrate the new Hebrew month in prayer with music and the wearing of their sacred Tallit’s, like many in our Shuls.
So it was with great sadness that I read the report from Women of the Wall that the group of young religious extremists who had seized and destroyed 39 sacred prayer books being brought to the Kotel by the women have been exonerated.
In fact, after two years the case has now been closed, with the police claiming at the time, that the action was not a “hate crime” but rather “an expression of fervent religion”. One must ask what sort of religious belief would drive or excuse anyone or group from the inexcusable action of destroying prayer books, even if the perpetrators were not supportive of the religious beliefs of the prayer book owners.
The purposeful destruction of another’s sacred texts can only be seen as an act of hate. It is the same expression of hate that is seen every Rosh Chodesh when Women of the Wall go to the Kotel to pray and are met by spitting screaming extremists who physically attack them. Nowhere in the Judaism I know is this acceptable. On the contrary, it is “an act of HATE” and against all the principles of the love of G-d and the “Other”, no matter who the “other” is. But a fellow Jew, regardless of their set of beliefs and occurring in Eretz Yisrael beggars belief?
It is obvious that Israeli Progressive women have been betrayed and failed by the Israeli police who are no doubt responding to the views of extremists, the Chief Rabbinate, and the Rabbi of the Western Wall.
Through our annual Progressive Appeal, we send funds to the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) and the Israel Religious Action Centre (IRAC). This is not a plea for donations, but rather for you to know that what you give goes to a very good cause that is fundamental to our Progressive Jewish religious beliefs.
Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President