Lesley Sachs is arrested on June 7 with a Torah scroll at the Western Wall.

Women of the Wall Leader Arrested for Smuggling Torah Scroll Into Kotel

Women of the Wall executive director Lesley Sachs was detained by Jerusalem police on June 7 for smuggling a small Torah scroll into the women’s section of the Western Wall.

The group said she was detained for “disturbing the public order” after a prayer service of about 80 female worshippers read from the Torah. Sachs was exiting the prayer plaza when she was detained with the Torah. She is being held for questioning.

Private Torah scrolls are not allowed at the Western Wall plaza, according to rules drafted by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz and approved by the Justice Ministry. Rabinowitz has refused to allow Women of the Wall to access the Torah scrolls in the men’s section. Sachs is the fourth woman arrested with a Torah scroll since 2010.

Yizhar Hess, the executive director of the Conservative Movement in Israel, criticized the police for following Rabinowitz’s rules instead of “doing its job and keeping the law.”

“Israel is the only democracy in the world where Jews do not enjoy freedom of religion,” he said.

The Torah was lent to Women of the Wall by Congregation B’nai Israel from Sacramento, California.

Contact Naomi Zeveloff at zeveloff@forward.com or on Twitter @NaomiZeveloff

Author

Naomi Zeveloff

Naomi Zeveloff

Naomi Zeveloff is the Middle East correspondent of the Forward, primarily covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Women of the Wall Leader Arrested for Smuggling Torah Scroll Into Kotel

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close