Nov 24, 2009

Masorti Foundation: Jerusalem Rally to Protest Kotel Arrest


the masorti (conservative) movement in israel - promoting religious pluralism and building community through inclusive, traditional, egalitarian Judaism
Nofrat Frenkel
Dear Friends,
I am writing with an important follow-up to the story about the arrest in Israel at the Kotel of Nofrat Frenkel, a young medical student active in the Masorti movement since childhood. Nofrat was taken into custody for the "crime" of wearing a tallit and holding a sefer Torah during a Rosh Hodesh gathering of 40 women.
Nofrat has since written a sensitive, moving reflection on the incident. It appears as a "Letter from Jerusalem" in the forthcoming edition of the Forward newspaper, and I encourage you to read it:
I am also pleased to report that Nofrat's arrest has apparently hit a nerve among Israelis, the tens of thousands who are fed up with the repressive tactics of the haredim when it comes to expressions of religious freedom in Israel. Masorti and many other organizations are sponsoring a rally to "liberate the Kotel a second time" will take place in Jerusalem at the end of this Shabbat. You'll find details in the announcement below.
In the meantime, to continue the important battle for religious freedom and equality at the Kotel and throughout Israel, the Masorti movement needs your support. Please make your contribution today. Send a check to the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel at the address shown below, or make an online donation at
David H. Lissy
Executive Director & CEO
"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.
We call upon all members of the Masorti Movement, from across the country, to make the effort to come to the rally (we will try to assist those wishing to stay in Jerusalem from Friday afternoon by finding host families).  An impressive turnout by members of the Movement will color the march and rally with the correct messages.  We will provide Movement members with a Movement T-shirt, stickers and placards.  Whoever can should also prepare placards at home and bring them with.
The meeting point of Movement members (distribution of T-shirts, stickers, placards) – 18:50, at the entrance to the Fuchsberg Center (beside Kikar Paris).
To learn more, please contact:
Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832
New York, NY 10115-0068
(212) 870-2216; 1-877-287-7414;