Women of the Wall prayed under police presence at the Western Wall this morning after the group complained to Israel’s attorney general about the lack of protection at their monthly prayer service.
Women of the Wall, the group agitating for women’s prayer rights at the Western Wall, said it feared a violent encounter with ultra-Orthodox protesters at its upcoming regular monthly prayer service after it was told that the group’s protection falls not to the police but to the ushers who help administer the site.
Leah Bieler explains how her family came to be escorted out of the Kotel plaza by an ultra-Orthodox teenager holding their ‘contraband.’
Protestors greeted Women of the Wall participants with curses, heckling and disruptive whistle blowing during their monthly prayer Friday morning.
The temporary takeover by Orthodox worshippers of the area at the Western Wall designated for non-Orthodox services combined with the suspicion that the Israeli government might never build a promised egalitarian prayer platform there has spurred non-Orthodox leaders to abandon the plan for a separate space and revert to their original demand: for their own section at the existing prayer plaza.
Women of the Wall executive director Lesley Sachs was detained by Jerusalem police on June 7 for smuggling a Torah scroll into the women’s section of the Western Wall holy site.
American Jewish leaders have told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Jewish diaspora’s relationship with Israel is at stake if it fails to implement a plan — already approved by the government, but blocked by the ultra-Orthodox — for an egalitarian plaza at the Western Wall.
David Sharan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s U.S.-born chief of staff, who is heading negotiations on an egalitarian Western Wall plaza, will be the Israeli Cabinet’s next secretary.
The Women of the Wall group held Passover holiday prayers at the Western Wall, but did not hold a priestly blessing ceremony, after being banned by Israel’s attorney general.
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit prohibited Women of the Wall from holding a female version of the priestly blessing ceremony at the Western Wall during Passover, which starts Friday evening.