Supporters of the Women Of The Wall will gather in New York on Tuesday, March 12, supporting women’s right to pray freely at the Western Wall, or Kotel, in Jerusalem.
The New York event, expected to be the largest, is organized by New York’s Wake Up for Religious Tolerance!, and will take place at 9 a.m. on the north side of Union Square Park, rain or shine. If it rains, the location will change to the Town & Village Synagogue on 14th Street between Firsst and Second Avenue.
Similar events are expected to be held in Washington D.C., San Francisco, Cleveland, and Chicago.
Women of the Wall have held a service every month for Rosh Hodesh (the beginning of the new month) at the Kotel for the past 20 years. March 12, at 7 a.m. will mark the beginning of the month of Nissan.
The organization advocates for the “social and legal recognition of our right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall.
In October, Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of Women of the Wall, was arrested by Israeli police for leading a prayer service at the Western Wall, in violation with Israeli law. This arrest — a first, according to Hoffman — has galvanized Jewish liberal support, especially in the United States. In February, 10 women were arrested for wearing prayer shawls, including Rabbi Susan Silverman, comedian Sarah Silverman’s sister. Since then, things have calmed down. But according to the activists, that is no reason to back down.
“Despite the past few months’ quiet prayer services with no disruptions of the peace, the police have continuously detained women- seven or ten at a time- for the felony of wearing a Tallit (prayer shall). Against the police detentions and in support of Women of the Wall and the right to freedom of religion at the Western Wall, hundreds will be organizing solidarity rallies and prayer services all over the US,” stated a press release put out by Women of the Wall.
The press release added that clashes at the Western Wall between Haredim and Women of the Wall are expected, after posters calling for ultra-Orthodox opposition to come to the Kotel on Tuesday morning.
Anne Cohen is the Forward’s deputy digital media editor. When she’s not looking for the secret Jewish history of Voodoo in New Orleans, or making lists about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she writes for The Assimilator. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism with an M.S. magazine concentration in 2012.