Separating state and religion at the Western Wall

Wed, 06/05/2013 - 1:23pm -- JOFA

Though I have never worn a prayer shawl myself, I wanted to support those who did.

WoW April 11 arrests

By Susan Weiss
WoW April 11 arrests Photo: Marc Israel Sellem
After police threw Anat Hoffman in jail, I joined Women of the Wall (WoW) for monthly services. This decision did not stem from deep religious fervor.
I am not good at prayer; don’t want to be anywhere at seven in the morning, and, most annoyingly, there’s no place to park at the Western Wall. But I couldn’t accept the idea that the state was harnessing police power to prevent women from wearing prayer shawls.

Though I have never worn a prayer shawl myself, I wanted to support those who did. Israel, after all, is a liberal democracy, no? For me, the answer to this question has great significance. I want to know what values the Jewish state holds dear. Is it a democracy dedicated to protecting personal liberties? Or is it a theocracy intent on upholding the word of God? For me, the drama unfolding at the Wall is about politics and the structure of government. For others, it carries different meanings. For some, it’s about gender: Are women and men full partners in the Jewish tradition? For still others, it’s about identity: Who is a Jew? Do Reform and Conservative Jews count? 
This article originally appeared on the Jerusalem Post, read the rest of the article.

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