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Full Rights for Women and Reform Judaism In Israel

December 20, 2012

My colleague and friend Rabbi Elyse Frishman, being detained by Israeli Police for wearing a Tallit at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel. She is the editor of our Reform Prayer Book, Mishkan T’fillah. This must change!

Following this incident, which occurred just before the last night of Hanukkah 2012, Haartez published an op-ed by Rabbi Frishman recounting her experience. She writes, in part:

We began to move through security. All of us wore our prayer shawls and carried our prayer books. There were rumors: No women permitted to bring prayer books or prayer shawls today! Contrary to rumor, prayer books were permitted – but for the first time, no prayer shawls. A decree had been issued – illegally, randomly – that women could not have prayer shawls today. Security began to confiscate them. Some men walked in with prayer shawls. Most women had theirs removed.

There is no law in Judaism against a woman wearing a prayer shawl. If anything, the law from Torah (Numbers 15:38) is: “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them that they shall make themselves fringes on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations…”

We gathered quietly at the rear of the Western Wall to pray. One woman came over to me and asked quietly, “May I stand with you and pray? I wanted to wear my prayer shawl, but I’m afraid.”

Two police officers walked over. One said in Hebrew, “You are not allowed to wear the prayer shawl.” Pretending, I said politely in English, “Excuse me, I do not understand.”

Read full story at Haaretz

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