Police Plead for Calm as Women Plan Monthly Prayer at Western Wall

Will Ultra-Orthodox Crowds Keep Women Away?

haaretz

By JTA

Published August 06, 2013.
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Jerusalem police asked haredi Orthodox members of the Jerusalem City Council and Women of the Wall leaders to refrain from confrontation at the Western Wall Plaza this week. Women of the Wall will hold its monthly Rosh Chodesh prayer service at the Western Wall on Wednesday morning.

The police and the rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, made the request over security concerns connected with the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which will require a large police presence, Rabinowitz said in a statement issued Tuesday by his office.

The haredi city councilmen were asked to refrain from bringing thousands of students to the site, and Women of the Wall was asked to come without tefillin. According to the statement, the haredim acceded to the request and Women of the Wall did not.

In recent months, the heads of haredi Orthodox yeshivas and women’s seminaries have rallied thousands of female students to fill the plaza in order to protest the prayer service and prevent its occurrence.

Last month, the Women of the Wall were forced to hold the service behind a police barrier in the southern part of the plaza, blocked from seeing the wall by the Mughrabi Bridge.

Tens of thousands of Muslims are expected to visit the site Wednesday for the last prayer of Ramadan.

Late last month, Women of the Wall asked Rabinowitz to allow them to use one of the site’s 100 scrolls available for public use or to bring in its own, which is forbidden.

Also late last month, the group held a small, non-publicized public prayer service at the wall that was not disturbed by protesters.


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