Shalom Life | February 22, 2014

Women of the Wall Encounter Spit & Jeers During Prayer Service

The group shunned the recently built egalitarian platform, and were met with spitting and chastisement while praying for Rosh Hodesh

By: Graham Sigurdson

Published: October 4th, 2013 in News » World

The Women of the Wall can’t seem to catch a break.

On Friday, during a relatively peaceful session of prayer at the Western Wall, the group was met with jeers and spit from Orthodox females. The members of Women of the Wall were praying in the women’s main section of the area, deliberately avoiding the recently built egalitarian prayer 'platform.'

The Times of Israel reports that on Wednesday, the rabbi for the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitch, asked that ultra-Orthodox leaders call on the women under their charge to not demonstrate against Women of the Wall, urging them to find a solution for egalitarian prayer, as per the recommendation of a committee appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as the "delicate security situation on the Temple Mount."

As could be expected, this did not sit well with many Orthodox worshipers, and a number of seminary girls arrived to demonstrate, some going so far as to spit on members of Women of the Wall. The women’s presence came at a time when a special prayer session was underway for ailing rabbi Ovadia Yosef, former spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party.

Women of the Wall pray and read from the Torah at the Western Wall at the beginning of each Jewish month, for Rosh Hodesh, sometimes garbed with prayer shawls and tefillin which, as argued by some Orthodox rabbis, should only be worn by men. In the past, the Haredi rabbinic leadership sent thousands of women to pray during the Women of the Wall’s services, filling the women’s section of the plaza and choking them out.

As we reported in August, a platform for egalitarian prayer was built over Robin’s Arch, away from the main plaza of the Western Wall. This was met with largely negative response, with Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman sharply criticizing it.

"The government of Israel decided as a ‘gift’ for Rosh Hashanah to solve the issue… by building this sunbathing deck," she said, adding that the site "is a way of building a second-rate Wall for second-rate Jews. I refuse to accept it."

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