The effort invested by Shira Pruce, the PR director of Women of the Wall, is both sad and comic. She is going strong in a campaign to transform the conversation about the issues that need public debate and airing in connection to the Women of the Wall.
In the most recent posting by Pruce, there is the newest assertion, unfounded by any facts, “What’s stopping them from banning women all-together, or exiling all women to Robinson’s Arch? We are ensuring that this will not happen.” WOW is manning the ramparts against the ominous Hariedim, who are about to ban women from the Kotel Plaza.
It’s Wow, fighting the good fight, holding back those “Ultra Orthodox”-which she loves to mention “are just 8% of the population”. It reminds me of the theme song from old TV show, the Lone Ranger, “Here he comes to the save the day, the Lone Ranger”.
There is only one problem; the idea of banning women from the wall is a fantasy being created by the PR spinmeisters of WOW. There is absolutely no movement in that direction, no public figure has suggested that, nor anyone from the rabbinical community. The only place that this new idea is to be found is on the website of Women of the Wall. Now, looking to drum up more support, they are creating a myth to substantiate their campaign to impose on others modifications in Jewish traditional and observance.
There are real issues to be debated. We disagree with WOW over basic concepts of Judaism.
They speak in a language of “rights”; we speak in the language of “responsibilities”.
They want to import from Western secular culture the concept that equality trumps all. We believe that Judaism empowers us with responsibilities.
They view liberal feminism as their guiding light. We believe in the Torah’s historical perspective that Judaism bestows a unique spiritual destiny on both men and women.
They believe that Torah can be redefined and changed according to the morals of the time. We believe that tradition should be treasured and preserved.
They claim it’s just about prayer. We chose to bring to the public debate the words of WoW leaders that time and again say the battle over the Kotel is but step in a campaign to transform religious life in Israel.
We value the delicate compromise on religion in Israel that allows us to all coexist. They want to discard that.
Their leaders speak of liberating religious women and that their actions are empowering change in the religious community. We feel that we are already empowered and do not need their liberation.
There is one area where Wow and Women For the Wall do agree- the size of the women’s section at the Kotel Plaza. We support its expansion, improving the facilities and efforts to enhance women’s spiritual experience in this most holy site. Sadly, due to the construction of Mughrabi Bridge, the women’s section has been diminished. One of the goals of our group is to lobby to improve and expand the present women’s section.
So let’s debate the real issues, and not create new ones. No one is dreaming of banning women from the wall. It might be a nice idea you can use in a fundraising event in a liberal congregation in Cleveland. The ladies will swoon over this new ominous threat and open up their checkbooks.
Tell the truth. Let’s have a real conversation.