Oct 23, 2021

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A Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Member of Knesset found a new use for Psalms, reciting them as an act of political protest.

Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) entered a meeting of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Thursday, sat on the floor, and began reciting Psalms loudly to interrupt the session.

Porush was protesting the actions of the committee’s head, Gilad Kariv (Labor), a reform “rabbi” and the Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), who provided a sacred Torah scroll to the Women of the Wall (WOW) group last week for their prayer section at the Kotel (Western Wall).

“We respect the right of MK Porush to protest, so we will take a break so that he can complete his reading [of Pslams],” Kariv told the committee’s members.“I was at the Western Wall this morning and I am glad that other Knesset members are exercising their right to protest.

Earlier in the day, Kariv carried the Torah scroll to the Kotel Plaza, violating the explicit directives of the Justice Ministry. Kariv relied on his immunity as an MK to avoid being stopped. A representative of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation which manages the religious site approached Kariv and requested that he refrain from his acts which, in the past, have provoked Orthodox Jews who pray at the site.  

After transferring the Torah scroll to the WOW, they began to read from it out loud, visibly disturbing many of the people praying at the site.

“We greatly regret the difficult events that occurred at the Western Wall this morning, following the decision of MK Gilad Kariv to take a Sefer Torah into the women’s section of the site, in direct contravention of a clear ruling issued by the Justice Ministry,” the Western Wall Heritage Foundation said in a statement.

“It should be noted that the Foundation did what it could to prevent friction by providing a special path for the Women of the Wall group, according to the proposal of the Justice Ministry, and did everything in its power to separate the groups and prevent unnecessary tension and maintain the dignity of this holy site.”

MK Porush also responded to the incident:

“Gilad Kariv has exploited his parliamentary immunity and caused a public disturbance at the Western Wall, debasing the holiness of the site,” Porush said. “This crosses a red line and must not be tolerated.”

A section of the Western Wall is permanently set aside for egalitarian prayer however the WOW holds monthly prayers on Rosh Chodesh (the new month). They include in their prayers women reading from the Torah and other aspects of public prayer that does not conform to Orthodox Jewish law. They hold these prayers in the women’s section of the Kotel set aside for prayers that conform to the customs of Orthodox Judaism. This was the second time that Kariv used his parliamentary immunity to pass a Torah to the Women of the Wall activists.

Porush was eventually escorted out of the meeting by Knesset ushers.

“I will continue this protest until you stay away from the Western Wall,” Porush said as he left. “You will not come into the women’s section, and I will not come here.”