Women of Wall Deeply Split Over Anat Hoffman's Acceptance of Prayer Deal

How Close to Kotel Is Close Enough?

getty images

By Nathan Jeffay

Published October 24, 2013, issue of November 01, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

A dark cloud hangs over Women of the Wall’s 25th anniversary celebrations slated for November 4, as the movement stands on the verge of a major split.

More than 100 supporters from North America, who are taking part in a special anniversary trip, will join WOW’s Israeli members at a monthly prayer meeting at the Western Wall, followed by a reception and seminar.

They will be celebrating their success in uniting Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and unaffiliated feminists behind the mission of fighting for the right of women to pray freely at the Western Wall.

Anat Hoffman is led away by police after women’s prayer protest at the Western Wall.
women of wall
Anat Hoffman is led away by police after women’s prayer protest at the Western Wall.

But ironically, at this key moment in its history, the group is more divided than ever.

WOW has always insisted on meeting in the Kotel’s bustling prayer gallery reserved for women. It rejected suggestions that because its prayer practices upset the ultra-Orthodox, who dominate this site, it should relocate to a quieter part of the Wall. But in early October, WOW made a U-turn and agreed to leave the Kotel plaza for a stretch of the Wall that was excavated in the 19th century, known as Robinson’s Arch.

The decision, approved by an 9-2 majority on the WOW board, left some of the organization’s members devastated at what they feel is the acceptance of a second-rate site. Now 21 of WOW’s founders, members and supporters have signed a letter pledging to continue fighting for rights at the main Kotel plaza, regardless of whatever agreements the formal WOW leadership makes with the government.

“We are committed to our dream and to the work needed to fully realize and sustain it,” the dissenters wrote. “We will maintain this commitment even if others accept the archaeological site known as Robinson’s Arch instead of the Kotel.”

WOW’s decision to compromise comes as the government is working on a proposal to establish a large egalitarian prayer section at Robinson’s Arch. Cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit is crafting the proposal in consultation with Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky.


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!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • 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.