Women of the Wall Executive Director Leslie Sachs was detained by the police last week for “smuggling” a Torah scroll into the women’s section of the Western Wall prayer plaza. The Torah scroll had been loaned to the group by Sacramento’s Congregation B’nai Israel in order to mark Rosh Hodesh prayers. Sachs took it with her into custody.
In a statement, Women of the Wall said: “Sachs was detained for ‘disturbing the public order despite a relatively quiet and uneventful prayer service with 80 Women of the Wall worshippers. The reason given for the police action was smuggling a Torah scroll into the women’s section. Though we believe that the Torah was handed down to women and men equally at Mt. Sinai, and though women and men both sacrificed their lives and loved ones for the reunification of Jerusalem, in 2016 women still struggle for access to Torah scrolls at the Kotel.”
Torah scrolls are made available to male worshippers at the site by the Orthodox rabbinical authorities.
In recent months, police had largely stopped detaining members of Women of the Wall while they await a High Court ruling on the organization’s petition on the use of Torah scrolls. Proponents of equal prayer are also waiting for a permanent egalitarian prayer plaza to be constructed.