Sarah courts controversy in Jerusalem

Currently visiting Israel, Sarah was part of attempted Hanukkah activism at Jerusalem’s holy Western Wall today. Fans know that Sarah’s sister Susan, a Jerusalem rabbi, and Susan’s daughter, Hallel Abramowitz, are active members of the Women of the Wall, with a mission to gain equal treatment for women who worship at the holy site. While in the past, Sarah’s sister and niece have even been arrested during civil disobedience, in this case they appear only to have had their menorahs confiscated by the police. This is how it was reported by Ha’aretz:

 Haaretz    The Jewish-American comedian Sarah Silverman joined Women of the Wall, the multidenominational prayer group, for a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony at the Jewish holy site this evening.

     Her sister, Susan Silverman, is a Reform rabbi who lives in Jerusalem and an active member of the women’s organization. The comedian’s niece was featured in a special bus poster campaign in Jerusalem urging young girls to hold their bat-mitzvah ceremonies at the Western Wall.

     Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Western Wall rabbi who is in charge of protocol at the site, rejected a request by Women of the Wall to erect a large candelabra in the women’s section, similar to the one in the men’s section, so that they could hold their own separate candle lighting ceremony.

     Organization activists decided that they would bring their own Hanukkah menorahs from home and hold a joint candle-lighting ceremony tonight at the Western Wall. But when they arrived at the entrance to the holy site, their menorahs were confiscated at the security checkpoint. Only when a leader of the organization called police to complain were the menorahs returned. 

Religionnews.com had updated information that said, after WotW called the police, they were permitted to have their lighting ceremony at the wall:

121814religionnewsserviceLater, the group called the police and was allowed to enter.

“We lit 28 menorahs placed on silver foil in the women’s section,” Hoffman said. “We sang and we danced around the menorahs. This was the very first time in the history of Israel that women have lit a menorah at the wall. It was very moving.”

Hoffman said Silverman, who is in Israel to attend the bar mitzvah of her nephew, the son of Women of the Wall activist Rabbi Susan Silverman, “joined us when I explained the absurdity of the rabbis’ position.”

“She’s such a public Jewish figure, a strong feminist who isn’t afraid to speak her mind,” said Shira Pruce, the group’s press liaison.

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Photo: Women of the Wall’s Anat Hoffman, sisters Susan Silverman and Laura Silverman, Sarah, and niece Ashira Abramowitz, lighting Hanukkah candles December 18 at the Western Wall.

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