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Proclaim Liberty to the Wall

The Talmud reports that the Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred among Jews.  On Monday, on Rosh Hodesh Av, the day that begins the intense mourning period for the destruction of the Temple, I witnessed the Talmud’s words come to life.

I accompanied my wife and 300 other women and joined Women of the Wall for their monthly prayer group.  We were called Nazis and Amalekites, Israel’s ancient sworn enemy.  A few eggs were thrown.  My friend’s daughters were spit on.  We continued to pray.  We sang, “Ozi v’zimrat yah—my strength and songs to God will be my salvation.” (Psalm 118:14)

The morning began, ironically enough, at Liberty Bell Park where the police insisted we gather before traveling to the Wall.  There we boarded buses for the short drive to the Dung Gate.  We were accompanied by police cars and then escorted by officers through the entrance to the Western Wall plaza.  Haredi, ultra-Orthodox, leaders had bused Haredi girls to the Wall ahead of our arrival and filled the women’s section with 5,000 young girls.  The police determined that it would be impossible for Women of the Wall to pray at the Wall and so they only allowed the group into an area just inside the entrance.  We stood in a group, enclosed by police and their barricades, and surrounded by thousands of screaming Haredi men on one side and women on the other.  They shouted at our prayers.  They blew whistles to drown out our singing of Hatikvah.

I never imagined that in the sovereign Jewish state my wife and I would require police protection to pray as we have done all our lives....