Women of Wall Hold Calmest Prayer Protest in Months at Western Wall

No Confrontation With Ultra-Orthodox Shas Supporters

getty images

By JTA

Published October 04, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

More than 100 women gathered for a Women of the Wall service at the Western Wall, praying in the women’s section with no physical barriers enclosing them, little police protection and minimal disruption from protesters.

Women of the Wall gather at the Western Wall for a women’s prayer service at the beginning of each Jewish month. Friday’s service was the group’s calmest in at least six months.

The group scored a legal victory in court this year that allowed its members to pray without fear of arrest. In addition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has convened a committee to forge a compromise between Women of the Wall and the haredi leaders who would like to retain exclusive control of the holy site. These changes in the status quo sparked a backlash in Israel’s haredi Orthodox community, which turned out protesters en masse for several services in a row.

During those services, from May through August, Women of the Wall were barricaded under a tight police cordon in various parts of the Western Wall plaza. Groups of haredi men yelled epithets and threw eggs, coffee and water at the women, while thousands of Orthodox girls, spurred by rabbis and activists, would pack the women’s section of the plaza and pray silently – often blocking Women of the Wall from accessing the women’s section.

Leading up to Friday’s service, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz asked that the Orthodox girls not come to pray – a request that went unheeded. Thousands packed the plaza to participate in a joint service with a group in the men’s section, praying for the health of Sephardi sage Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who has been hospitalized.

But in contrast to recent months, Women of the Wall prayed in the plaza with nothing separating them from the Orthodox girls. A few police officers stood in the crowd but had no unrest to quell. The only protest that Women of the Wall faced were intermittent screams from some girls. A few girls tried to shush Women of the Wall, to little avail.

The service for Yosef’s health used loudspeakers in the men’s section, and that prayer, Women of the Wall’s singing and the girls’ screams combined at times to create a cacophony. But after an hour or so, the services ended and each group went its separate way, as if there were no conflict at all.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.