An ultra-Orthodox lawmaker interrupted a parliamentary panel meeting on Thursday by loudly reciting verses from the book of Psalms while sitting on the floor in protest of the committee chairman, who passed along a Torah to women praying at the Western Wall earlier in the day.
Labor MK Gilad Kariv, a Reform rabbi who chairs the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, was forced to recess the panel while parliamentary guards worked to remove United Torah Judaism’s Meir Porush from the room.
“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,” Kariv said, referring to his decision to use his parliamentary immunity to pass along a Torah scroll to Women of the Wall activists during their monthly Rosh Hodesh service at the Kotel.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which administers the site according to traditional Orthodox standards, only allows its own Torah scrolls to be used during prayer services.
Although a 2013 court ruling found that women have the right to read from Torah scrolls during services, in practice there are no scrolls made available in the women’s section at the Western Wall, known in Hebrew as the Kotel. This was the second time that Kariv used his parliamentary immunity to pass a Torah to the Women of the Wall activists.
"אנחנו מקבלים פה שיעור טוב בדיון מה הוא חילול שם שמיים ומה הוא קידוש שם שמיים". ח"כ פורוש התיישב במחאה על ריצפת אולם חדר ועדת #חוקה לאחר שניתנה הוראה להוציא אותו מהדיון.@KarivGilad @amirettin @YahdutAtora pic.twitter.com/8cA65wiy5Q
— ערוץ כנסת (@KnessetT) October 7, 2021
As the Knesset’s security guards sought to urge Porush to leave the room, the Haredi lawmaker said: “I will continue this protest until you stay away from the Western Wall. You will not come into the women’s section, and I will not come here.”
Kariv maintains that he did not enter the women’s section to pass along the Torah, rather he gave the scroll to the Women of the Wall activists in the plaza area behind the gender dividers. They then proceeded with it into the women’s section where it was confiscated by security guards.
“The committee’s walls did not fall, and at least we received a few chapters of Psalms out of this,” said an unfazed Kariv, who went on to give a short Dvar Torah asserting that while Porush might be intending to sanctify Judaism through his act of protest, he was in fact doing the opposite and scaring people away from his ultra-Orthodox lifestyle.
ראש חודש מרחשוון – נמשיך להגן על זכותן של נשות הכותל להתפלל כמנהגן ולקרוא בתורה ברחבת הכותל עד יישום מלא של מתווה הפשרה שסיכלה הממשלה הקודמת. חודש טוב ומבורך. נשות הכותל – חזקו ואמצו. תודה לכן. pic.twitter.com/wVrzv2aMDT
— גלעד קריב (@KarivGilad) October 7, 2021