Women of the Wall service this month ends without arrests
Large number of Jerusalem Police & Border Police deploy to Western Wall to encounter only several dozen haredim, so there wasn’t a recurrence of last month’s violent clashes between women & ultra-Orthodox protesters.
By Israel Hayom Staff
Despite fears of a showdown, the Women of the Wall went ahead with their monthly prayer service at Jerusalem’s Western Wall on Sunday morning, in a morning that turned out to be relatively uneventful.
The Women of the Wall praying at the Western Wall [archive] – Photo: Contact
Last month, thousands of ultra-Orthodox teenagers were bused in for an organized demonstration against the Women of the Wall, and clashed violently with police and members of the group during the prayer service. The demonstration was called after the Jerusalem District Court ruled that it was legal for the women to pray at the Wall wearing prayer shawls and singing out loud, practices the ultra-Orthodox reserve for men.
On Sunday, some 300 women and their supporters arrived at the Kotel for the monthly Rosh Hodesh (first of the new Hebrew month) service. Despite calls to arrive en masse, only several dozen haredim sang in protest as the women arrived, waving protest signs and calling out slogans against the women and against the police officers escorting them.
A large number of Jerusalem Police and Border Police officers were deployed to the area to secure the volatile service. The police officers created a wide buffer zone between the women’s and the men’s sections, and between the protesters and the Women of the Wall, allocating a designated area for the group. There were no more worshippers in the men’s section than there usually are on Rosh Hodesh.
The women conducted their prayer service without incident, excluding a few eggs that were thrown in their direction. Minor verbal skirmishes between haredi women and the Women of the Wall were also recorded.
The haredi men carried signs reading, “Women of the provocation, you’ve invented a new Judaism, build yourself a new modern wall,” and “Next Ramadan, the Israel Police will escort people wearing shoes into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” The notices were signed, “lovers of democracy.”
After the service, although the Women of the Wall were safely escorted out of the area, a small group of haredim clashed with a group of supporters of the women and a handful of arrests were made.
Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz voiced his regret over the day’s events, saying, “The closed fortress that was established at the Western Wall to allow a small group to enact its customs is not a badge of honor for the Jewish people or for the holy site.”
Rabinowitz further condemned “violence or demonstrations of any kind in the Western Wall plaza,” and voiced hope that “the leadership [of Israel] will wisely devise a solution before next month’s service.”
MK Michal Rosin (Meretz) who took part in the Women of the Wall service, said “It looks like the start of an understanding that this place has to serve as a home to different streams. Regardless, I would have liked to see the police arrest those who threatened the Women of the Wall instead of restricting their access in a way that didn’t even allow them to reach the Western Wall itself.”
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