Shalom Life | July 10, 2015

Woman Denied Entrance to Western Wall for Wearing Kippah, Rabbi Apologizes

After being threatened with arrest, Linda Siegel-Richman from Colorado ordered to leave Western Wall due to skullcap on her head; Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch clarifies in response that holy site 'is open to every man and woman'

By: Kobi Nachshoni

Published: July 9th, 2015 in News » Israel

Woman Denied Entrance to Western Wall for Wearing Kippah, Rabbi Apologizes

Photo: Western Wall


Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch issued an apology Tuesday morning to Linda Siegel-Richman, who was shamefacedly driven away from the holy site on Sunday after trying to enter the prayer plaza with a skullcap on her head.

"We are unaware of this incident and of Linda's story, as are the police, and we hope it isn't just another media event with no truth behind it," the rabbi of the Western Wall and Israel's holy sites clarified.

He added, however, that "if such an incident did take place, the Kotel ushers were wrong to prevent Linda from entering. The Western Wall is open to every man and woman.

"I would like to send my sincere apology and the ushers' apology to Linda, and I hope she will come back and visit the Kotel soon," he said.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabonovitch. 'The Kotel ushers were wrong to prevent Linda from entering'

Rabbi Shmuel Rabonovitch. 'The Kotel ushers were wrong to prevent Linda from entering'

Rabbi Rabinovitch said he believed Siegel-Richman had been treated that way due to the Women of the Wall's struggle to pray in the Western Wall with phylacteries and a prayer shawl and their demand to read from a Torah scroll at the women's plaza.

"Unfortunately, there has been a difficult atmosphere of suspicion and lack of faith in the Western Wall recently as a result of the Women of the Wall's loud struggle," the rabbi explained. "It's an atmosphere which affects many worshippers, and Linda was affected too."

'You don't belong here'

As reported by Ynet on Monday, Siegel-Richman arrived at the Western Wall in order to pray and place notes she received from her students, second graders at a school in Denver, Colorado.

The visit ended with arrest threats, a detention for questions and an expulsion from the holy site. The incident raised international interest, and different social media groups began calling for a "skullcap protest" at the Western Wall.

Linda Siegel-Richman.'I can walk around with a kippah anywhere in the US, and only in Israel I'm not allowed to do it freely?' (Photo: The Masorti Movement in Israel)

Linda Siegel-Richman.'I can walk around with a kippah anywhere in the US, and only in Israel I'm not allowed to do it freely?' (Photo: The Masorti Movement in Israel)

Siegel-Richman, a Jewish woman from Colorado who arrived in Israel for a month to study at a Conservative yeshiva, told Ynet: "I left the yeshiva and was still wearing the yarmulke on my head. At first I arrived at the Western Wall plaza and no one said anything. After I went out to the Cardo area to buy myself a drink, I returned to the Western Wall with my students' notes, but was blocked by two ushers who wouldn’t let me in.

"They started questioning me: Where did I come from? What do I have on my head? Why am I wearing a kippah? Am I aware of the trouble I am causing by wearing a kippah?"

She says the Western Wall Heritage Foundation ushers gathered around her and told her, "You don't belong here."

When she refused to be escorted to a nearby police station, she was escorted by police officer to a taxi stand outside the Western Wall.

"I feel sorry for them and for way they treated me," she says. "I can walk around with a kippah anywhere in the United States, and only in Israel I'm not allowed to do it freely?"

The Women of the Wall offered the following response: "The Western Wall rabbi claims that the Women of the Wall are to blame for the fact that ushers on his behalf attacked a woman wearing a skullcap in the Western Wall plaza. But it's clear to everyone that the clashes encouraged by him would have been prevented had he allowed us to pray as the law permits as, and as part of Jewish Law.

"This isn't an individual incident, but a phenomenon. Many female worshippers complain of offensive and humiliating treatment stemming from the attempt made by Rabbi Rabinovitch and his people to impose their haredi-radical stance on all male and female worshippers. We won't be surprised if the rabbi believes we are responsible for the declaration of a drought, for the fact that the state budget had yet to be approved and for burning cholent on Shabbat."

Reprinted with permission from Ynet News

Torontonian Receives Prestigious Young Leadership Award Torontonian Receives Prestigious Young Leadership Award TrendingAnti-Israel Mongers on Twitter Out in Full Force Over Snapchat in Tel Aviv Anti-Israel Mongers on Twitter Out in Full Force Over Snapchat in Tel Aviv TrendingTravelling Exhibition Offers the 'Ukrainian Jewish Encounter' Travelling Exhibition Offers the 'Ukrainian Jewish Encounter' Trending
 

Israeli Stewardess Surprises Deaf Passengers By Serving them in Sign Language

July 09, 2015 | By Itay Blumenthal
Israeli Stewardess Surprises Deaf Passengers By Serving them in Sign Language

El Al's Larisa Speyer uses sign language to offer 'VIP' service for deaf passengers traveling to sporting event; 'It seemed like I made their day'

Read More

Did Steve Ballmer's Last Decision as CEO Cost Microsoft Billions?

July 09, 2015 | By Daina Goldfinger
Did Steve Ballmer's Last Decision as CEO Cost Microsoft Billions?

The acquisition of the Nokia handset has reportedly been costing the tech giant

Read More

From Haifa to Houston: Israeli Ballet Dancer Makes Unlikely Dream Come True

July 09, 2015 | By Karen McDonough
From Haifa to Houston: Israeli Ballet Dancer Makes Unlikely Dream Come True

When you go onstage and perform and put your heart into it and you're in the moment, it's the best feeling in the world," says Shahar Dori

Read More

Jerusalem Ranked As One of World’s Best Cities

July 09, 2015 | By Daina Goldfinger
Jerusalem Ranked As One of World’s Best Cities

The holy city placed 10th overall on Travel & Leisure's Top Ten list

Read More

‘Football for All’ Campaign Promotes Female Sports and Coexistence in Israel

July 09, 2015 | By Daina Goldfinger
‘Football for All’ Campaign Promotes Female Sports and Coexistence in Israel

Jewish and Arab girls are coming together on the soccer field to foster social cohesion and female empowerment

Read More

Torontonian Receives Prestigious Young Leadership Award

July 09, 2015 | By Dan Horowitz
Torontonian Receives Prestigious Young Leadership Award

Keren Hayesod presents Prize for Exemplary Young Leadership to Toronto's Jason Rubinoff

Read More

NYPD Searching for Paintball Attackers Targeting Orthodox Jews

July 09, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
NYPD Searching for Paintball Attackers Targeting Orthodox Jews

Orthodox Jews have been attacked for months, with little progress

Read More

Woman Denied Entrance to Western Wall for Wearing Kippah, Rabbi Apologizes

July 09, 2015 | By Kobi Nachshoni
Woman Denied Entrance to Western Wall for Wearing Kippah, Rabbi Apologizes

After being threatened with arrest, Linda Siegel-Richman from Colorado ordered to leave Western Wall due to skullcap on her head; Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch clarifies in response that holy site 'is open to every man and woman'

Read More

More Headlines