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Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Jewish Woman Banished from Praying at the Western Wall

Anat Hoffman has been ordered not to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for 30 days.  Jerusalem police detained her on Monday after she brought a Torah scroll to the women’s prayer section of the Western Wall, holiest sites in Judaism and a remnant of the ancient site of the original Jewish Temple.  Hoffman leads “Women of the Wall,” a group of conservative Jews that challenges the limitations put on women’s prayer. The Israeli Supreme Court under the influence or ulta-Orthodox groups has ruled that women can’t read from the Torah in the temple area. Witnesses of yesterday’s confrontation said Hoffman had possession of the Torah scroll in the prayer area but was not reading it.

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There’s a story in the Christian Scriptures – John 4 – of a woman from Samaria, a region in 1st Century Israel, who asked Jesus about the proper place to pray. She was concerned because Samaritans were not allowed to pray in the Jewish Temple. They countered that the right place to meet God was on the holy mountain in their region where God has once met with his people. Jesus answered her and all of us in the process, that  the location of worship does not matter. He simply said, “True worshippers worship in spirit and in truth.” What matters is the heart of prayer and worship.

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“We pray today for all those who feel banished from their relationship with God. For those who have suffered from the rejection of restrictive religious systems, who have been ostracized from their relationship with God by human rules and regulations. God, meet them where they are! We worship you wherever we are. The heart of praise and adoration is all you require. Remind us all today that no human boundary can bar us from your presence. We are invited to come boldly before you, as we are, where we are. It is your grace that invites us and then prepares us for your presence. God, thank you for coming to our space first, in Jesus, so that we can come to yours! In Jesus!”

  • http://www.taliashewrote.blogspot.com Talia

    I’m sorry, are you Christian? I am confused. You can’t really apply Christianity to this situation. It is nice that Jesus said that but as Jews, it doesn’t mean much in practice to us. That being said, I disagree with the police in Jerusalem and am furious that they are treating Anat like this.
    From her friends that were there with her, they were taking the Torah out and up to Robinson’s Arch which they had obtained permission to use to read Torah since they were not allowed to do so on the woman’s side of the Kotel.
    I addressed a broader issue here – http://www.patheos.com/community/jewishportal/2010/07/is-this-the-future-israeli-jewish-women-are-doomed-to-live/ – that women are being restricted because men can’t control themselves. How is that fair?

  • Lorna

    In many religions women are not treated equally- to the point of near if not literally abuse. Women should be treated fairly- not being a Jew but having one for my Boss (Jesus), I cannot fairly comment in a justifiable manner. However, fairness is fairness and certainly that issue should be addressed to a fair or comprised solution equally agreeable to all parties involved. There are plenty
    of good Jewish lawyers-so someone get her one!
    Jesus was pretty good to women-to the point they actually enjoyed their role as women. Christianity was started by Jesus Christ–but
    a lot of men have tainted Christianity with their sexist one-sidedness as to their interpretations of the scriptures. Jesus is the good example that men should follow in example as to how to treat women.
    We believe that the great mystery as to how He is God in the flesh is a mystery, and that since God created women, He would want men to treat them fairly. It is stated in the Bible that men’s prayers are hindered because they are not good to their wives. So much for the prayers at the Prayer Wall. How many of those prayers will He answer if those men are not fair to those women? Good blessing to all!

  • http://deathdying.org/ Blaze Smith

    I agree with the comments above that women should be treated fairly even with religious matters. I feel sorry for all the women who were persecuted due to sexist approach of men towards their religious texts.

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