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The ‘Crime’ of Praying with a Tallit, and a Plea for Tolerance By Nofrat Frenkel
Every morning, since I was 15, I have worn a tallit for prayer in my home. During my army service, I was forced to swallow many negative comments by other soldiers who prayed in the army synagogues, some of which did not even have a women’s gallery, because female soldiers never set foot in them. After leaving the army, I began to visit the Kotel every Rosh Hodesh. The atmosphere at the Kotel, the feeling that all those women praying around me were also turning to God and pouring out their hearts to Him, inspires me with the joy of Jewish fraternity. Here is one place in which, shoulder to shoulder, all the hearts are calling to God.
Prayer at the Kotel is so different from private prayer at home, or from communal prayer at the synagogue. It is a mixed creation: I am in a communal place, with many worshippers, but not even one voice can be heard. Just soft murmurings, choked crying, mute requests.
?God stands in the congregation of God? (Psalms 82) but it appears that God is not alone in this holy pl ace. There is also hatred and contempt, arrogance and argument. At least that is what I experienced when I prayed in the women’s section wearing my tallit.
The response of the ?righteous women of the Kotel? to my donning a tallit never delayed in coming: every Rosh Hodesh I could expect a different type of ?blessing.? Curses in Hebrew and Yiddish, venomous treatment toward me and my tallit, and speculation regarding my gender and religion: ?A man in the women’s section!? ?He’s not even Jewish!?
?Perhaps she’s dressed up for Purim?? …
2,000 Protest Haredi Religious Coercion in Jerusalem
By Nir Hasson
About two thousand secular Israelis demonstrated in central Jerusalem on Saturday evening, to protest police weakness in the face of what they branded ultra-Orthodox religious coercion and violence.
Police said there was no violence as protestors marched through the western part of Jerusalem, waving blue and white Israeli flags and holding placards reading “Jerusalem will not fall,” and “We are sick of [religious] coercion.”
The demonstration came after months of Haredi protests against parking lots in the capital that are open on Shabbat, which occasionally spilled over into violence. …
Haredi Minister Mulls Segregating Sexes at Psychiatric Hospitals By Dan Even
The latest storm to emerge from the office of Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman stems from the plan being considered to separate the sexes in Jerusalem’s psychiatric institutions. The idea is to transform the Kfar Shaul Psychiatric Hospital to men-only, and Eitanim to an all-women’s facility.
At a meeting Monday in Jerusalem, the deputy health minister confirmed his intention to evaluate the initiative of separating the sexes in psychiatric institutions. Litzman also said that as a first step, he would take action so that a women’s only section would be set up at Eitanim.
The plan has already drawn opposition from employees’ groups at the psychiatric hospitals. Union leader Dr. Yitzhak Ziv-Ner wrote a sharply worded letter to Litzman on the matter earlier this week, noting that “such a move is unacceptable in a country of equality that is law abiding. This move is opposed to the Basic Laws of the State of Israel, and is unprecedented in the medical system of Israel.” …
To read the above articles in full please visit the ARZA website – www.arza.org.au

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