Shame of Indoor Women's Section at Western Wall

Women Are Second-Class Citizens in Kotel Tunnels

haaretz

By Rahel S. Jaskow

Published February 18, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(Haaretz) — “You don’t belong here,” said the man trying to shut the heavy wooden door in my face. “Get out.”

I was standing in a little-known, indoor women’s section at the Western Wall, one that can be approached only through the outdoor men’s section. The space is clearly designated – in stone and glass – as a women’s prayer area, though a glass plaque recently mounted outside announces the hours when it is actually open to women: from midnight to 8:30 A.M. on all days of the week except Monday and Thursday, when it is open from midnight until 2:30 P.M.

The space is not actually a room but a narrow corridor, perpendicular to the main tunnel which is known as Wilson’s Arch. This main tunnel, which runs along the Western Wall, is open 24 hours a day and is for men only. (A friend remembers that Wilson’s Arch had no gender segregation in the 1980s. In 1983, a mixed-gender interfaith service led by a U.S. Navy chaplain was held there.) A heavy, latticed wooden door hung with a white curtain on the women’s side separates the corridor from the main tunnel. The door is often closed when I go there, but this time it was open, latched to the wall. My friend and I were the only ones there.

Wanting some pictures of the main tunnel, I stepped a few inches beyond the doorway, taking care not to venture too far inside. I managed to get some photographs, but a few moments later a man in a long black coat approached me, addressing me in American-sounding English.

“You’re in the wrong place,” he said politely but forcefully. “The women’s section is behind you.”

I took the few steps back into the women’s section. The man followed me, unlatched the door from the wall and began to close it. I held the door and asked him to leave it open. I wanted an unobstructed view of the tunnel – after all, the door had been open when I arrived, during the time that the women’s section was posted as being open to women.

The man’s veneer of politeness quickly vanished. “Get out,” he said. “You don’t belong here.”

“What’s your name?” I asked him. “By what authority are you telling me to leave?”

“I don’t have to tell you my name,” he said, and left.


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!
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • 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.