Friday, November 27, 2009

"Take back the city, by walking!"

Am going on a walk this Motzei Shabbat. It's called "Take back the city, by walking!" The city is Jerusalem - the exact place is the Kotel.  Perhaps you heard about the woman who was arrested at the Kotel for wearing a tallit and carrying a Torah. I'll have more on that in a later post - my housemate Amy was there and wrote a piece on it that I will share. But first I wanted to tell you about the Walk on Saturday night.  Here is some of the PR material:
“Taking back the city, by walking!”
Secular, religious and masorti Jews:
say put an end to attempts of haredi coercion
and unite to restore sanity, freedom
and mutual respect to the city!

Nofrat Frenkel, a NOAM graduate, member of Kehillat Hod Vehadar and a fourth-year medical student at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, was arrested last week after daring to put on a tallit at the main Kotel plaza. This incident joins a series of events that have practically expropriated the Kotel Hamaaravi from the hands of of Am Yisrael. For example, until very recently, groups of students or tourists would spontaneously break out in song and dance in the public plaza (Am Yisrael Hai, Kol Haolam Kulo). Now, however, if there is singing and dancing, they are immediately and brutally halted by the Modesty Guard of the Kotel rabbi; the public plaza itself has recently been divided in a way that allows the rapid erection of a mechitza between men and women; even the entrance from the parking area has been separated between the sexes; emotional ceremonies in which olim chadashim receive their teudot zehut have been cancelled after the Kotel rabbi insisted that the families adhere to separation between men and women; sign have been placed around the plaza cautioning people to maintain modesty; and the rabbi has many other ideas. The Kotel, a symbol that united Israeli and Diaspora Jews, is today, in effect, placed in the hands of the haredim. This is a hostile takeover by a small, fundamentalist group in the history of Am Yisrael (the haredim) – and the methodical exclusion of all those who do not adopt its code of behavior. We must liberate the Kotel, a second time.

After examining various options and ideas for a fitting response to this Kotel incident, we decided to join the forum of organizations for a free Jerusalem, which protests against the expropriation of the Kotel and against the haredi radicalization in Jerusalem in general – the haredi violence in the Intel and Karta car park incidents.

This coming Motzaei Shabbat (28/11), together with the forum, we will hold a large public march, for the members of the organizations, for the general public and for members of the Movement from around the country. The march will begin at 19:00, in Kikar Paris, and will culminate in a rally, at 20:00, in Kikar Zion. (there may be a change to the route, in accordance with police dictates). A Masorti rabbi will speak at the rally, as will Nofrat Frenkel.

The forum of organizations for a free Jerusalem includes: Hitorerut, Vaad Kiriat Yovel, Ruach Hadasha, Meretz, Tzeirei Haavoda, Tzeirei Halikud, Mifleget Or, the Greens-Meimad, Marom (Masorti Movement), Neemanei Torah Vaavoda, Forum Hatzeirim and Telem Students.

I"ll let you know how it turns out. 

Shabbat Shalom -


  1. Shabbat shalom, Arlene - am eager to hear how the walk went.

  2. What a wonderful response to the extremism - so in the spirit of Shabbat Shalom. Wishing you the best!!