Earlier this month, while several hundred women held their monthly Rosh Chodesh prayer service at the Western Wall, a group of ultra-Orthodox men jeered loudly at them from across the barrier separating men and women.
“Reform Jews, get out of here,” they shouted. “Reform Jews do not belong to the people of Israel. Reform Jews, you are unclean.”
As far as many ultra-Orthodox Jews are concerned, and even many secular Israelis, Women of the Wall – the organization behind the highly publicized battle of recent months to wrest control of Judaism’s holiest site from the Orthodox establishment – are indeed just that: a group of Reform Jews. After all, Reform Judaism was imported to Israel from English-speaking countries and many of these women are English-speakers. And Reform Judaism allows women to put on tallitot and tefillin when they pray, which is precisely what these women do.
The only problem is that Women of the Wall is by no means made up entirely of Reform Jews. It has many Conservative — and even more surprisingly — Orthodox activists and supporters, a growing number in fact.
Many Israelis would probably be surprised to learn that two of the eight board members at Women of the Wall are, in fact, Orthodox women.
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