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Reform Rabbis Decry Discrimination at Western Wall

(RNS) Reform rabbis have resolved to protest attacks on religious freedom in 2010 by supporting women who seek to worship equally with men in Jerusalem and Muslims who want to build minarets in Switzerland.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing about 1,800 Reform Jewish clergy in North America, issued a statement Dec. 30 against the treatment of Israeli feminist Nofrat Frankel, who was arrested in November after violating a law against women wearing traditional male prayer shawls and reading the Torah at the Western Wall.
Frankel, a medical student, and other “Women of the Wall” activists argue the holy site should not be operated like an Orthodox synagogue — with strict gender segregation and restrictions on how women may pray — because it belongs to all Jews.
On Jan. 10, Women of the Wall supporters plan to hold a 10 a.m.
service in San Francisco’s Union Square and other cities. Female worshippers may wear male vestments to demonstrate how some modern women prefer to pray. A similar day of solidarity was organized last month by the Women’s Rabbinic Network, a partner of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
In its parallel condemnation of the recent Swiss vote to ban new minarets, the rabbis noted that European Jews once endured similar discrimination during the Holocaust.
“We have been shocked by attacks on religious liberty in both Switzerland and our own Jewish State of Israel,” the group’s statement reads. “As we approach the secular new year, we hope that 2010 will see no further erosions of religious freedom but will be a year of liberty for men and women of all religions everywhere.”
By Nicole Neroulias
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

  • cknuck

    I don’t feel that gender segregation in religious ceremonies is discrimination its religion and that’s a part of what religion is, beliefs. If you don’t like it start a new religion of your own without infringing on the already established one. I am however curious about the arrest though, obviously regardless of claims that Israel is a secular nation it is a religious nation.

  • nnmns

    I understand Israel doesn’t even have a constitution. It clearly is a theocracy, and not one controlled by all Jews, but moreso by the fundamentalists.
    And they did start a religion of their own, Reform Judaism. Pay attention.
    And I don’t interpret the article as it having been an official religious ceremony, just a woman wanting to worship as she saw fit in a particular place and being arrested for it. By a country we send billions of dollars every year and give diplomatic cover, no matter what they do.

  • cknuck

    nnmns quote, “And they did start a religion of their own, Reform Judaism. Pay attention”
    I’ll ignore the inference and just remind you that not allowing women in this ceremony is not new but has always been a part of Judaism reformed or not. So women attempting to participate is the new part.

  • Kauko

    “I’ll ignore the inference and just remind you that not allowing women in this ceremony is not new but has always been a part of Judaism reformed or not. So women attempting to participate is the new part.”
    First point, its not about a religious ceremony, its about a place, one holy to all Jews no matter what denonmination. What this is about is that these Reform Jewish woman are protesting their inability to practice their religion fully at this holy site because its being policed by a very conservative form of Judaism. And its important to note that Judaism has always been made up of differing points of view. Neither you or I can say with any authority that denying women this has been a reality for all Jews at every period of history. Would you accept the Catholic Church telling Protestants how to worship? I’m sure since you feel this way about Judaism you are against any Protestant group allowing women pastors, since, of course, Christianty traditionally doesn’t allow such a role for women?

  • cknuck

    Kauko thanks for the unnecessary recap. What I think about Christianity has nothing to do with this event. Those of you who accuse Christians of the “this is the way we do it so you should do it this way too” attitude actually do way more of that than we do. I am attempting to address this issue for my own understanding not for rule making or breaking I am not a Jew so even though I am attempting to process this situation its not for judgment sake I’ll leave that up to you.

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