by Doris Schyman
On October 24th, Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, 12-year-old Sasha Lutt of Beer Sheva read from a Torah, completing the first ever full bat mitzvah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Irina Lutt, the proud mother who moved to Israel from Russia when Sasha was just a baby, looked on and supported her daughter during the ceremony.
After Women of the Wall’s Torah was banned at the entrance to the public holy site, an alternate scroll, a tiny, 200-year-old Torah, was brought into the Western Wall, under the radar of the authorities. This 28-centimeter Torah belongs to John and Noeleen Cohen of London and is certified Kosher by an Orthodox Sofer Stam. Mr. Cohen’s great-grandfather carried this Torah with him from Lithuania to South Africa in 1880. He loaned the family heirloom to Women of the Wall. Cohen said, “The purpose of a Torah scroll is to be read and I can think of no better place for the Scroll to be on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan than at the Kotel, in the women’s section, being read by women who want and have every right to read Torah at the Wall and, in my view, at every other place that a man can read Torah.”