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February 20, 2013

Sarah Silverman’s niece can visit Western Wall on Purim despite ban

http://www.jewishjournal.com/israel/article/sarah_silvermans_niece_can_visit_western_wall_on_purim_despite_ban

Susan Silverman, middle, a reform rabbi who is a sister of U.S. comedian Sarah Silverman, sits on the ground and prays with her daughter, left, after being asked by Israeli police to remove their prayer shawls at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on Feb. 11. Photo by Michal Fattal/Reuters

Susan Silverman, middle, a reform rabbi who is a sister of U.S. comedian Sarah Silverman, sits on the ground and prays with her daughter, left, after being asked by Israeli police to remove their prayer shawls at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on Feb. 11. Photo by Michal Fattal/Reuters

The niece of American comedian Sarah Silverman will be allowed to attend a women's Megillah reading at the Western Wall despite being banned from the site.

Hallel Abramowitz Silverman, 17, was one of 10 female worshipers arrested for wearing prayer shawls during a women's rosh chodesh prayer service at the Western Wall earlier this month. Her mother, Rabbi Susan Abramowitz Silverman, also was arrested.

The women were released on condition that they not visit the site for 15 days; they were required by police to sign a document agreeing to the condition.

Upon realizing that she would not be able to attend the Women of the Wall organization's women's Megillah reading at the wall because of the restriction, the younger Abramowitz Silverman wrote a letter to the Jerusalem Police, which she presented Tuesday in the Old City of Jerusalem police station in the presence of her lawyer and her father.

The police agreed to allow her to visit the Western Wall on Purim, which falls on Sunday night and Monday, the 15th of the Hebrew month of Adar.

“I wasn’t going to sign, but my mom had a flight leaving in a few hours, and we were afraid there would be complications and she would miss her flight,” she told Haaretz. “Plus, I was nervous. After all, I am 17 years old and I was being held in a police station.

“I was feeling so pressured, I didn't realize it would mean missing the Megillah,” she told the newspaper. “If I had really understood this, I don’t know if I would have signed.”

Abramowitz Silverman moved to Israel from Newton, Mass., with her family six years ago.

Following the arrest, Sarah Silverman tweeted, “SO proud of my amazing sister @rabbisusan & niece @purplelettuce95 for their ballsout civil disobedience. Ur the tits! #womenofthewall.”

Silverman's niece responded,“@SarahKSilverman hey auntie, want a copy of my mugshot?”

In 2003, Israel's Supreme Court upheld a government ban on women wearing tefillin or tallit prayer shawls, or reading from a Torah scroll at the Western Wall. Women participating in the rosh chodesh service have been arrested nearly every month since June for wearing prayer shawls or for “disturbing public order.”

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