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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner Photo: Orot
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Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
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Zionist rabbis vs. Women of Wall

Religious Zionism leaders join battle against liberal female worshippers following court ruling allowing them to wear prayer shawl at Western Wall. Yeshiva students prepare to gather at holy site on Friday during women's monthly prayer

Kobi Nachshoni
Published: 05.09.13, 13:10 / Israel Jewish Scene

Haredim are not alone: Senior religious Zionist rabbis are uniting for the first time in their own battle against the Women of the Wall, issuing a letter calling not to allow liberal female worshippers to pray at the Western Wall in a way contradicting its "conduct orders."

 

The protest was launched ahead of the women's monthly prayer, which will be held this Friday, during which they will be allowed for the first time to wear a prayer shawl at the holy site following a court ruling.

 

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The letter was signed by Rabbis Zalman Melamed, Chaim Druckman, Shmuel Eliyahu, Shlomo Aviner, Zvi Tau and Avigdor Nebenzahl, and includes a "holy call" on public figures in Israel and abroad "not to let a small group offend the thousands of worshippers arriving to pray at this sacred place on a regular basis."

 

The rabbis rule that "the Western Wall belongs to every single Jew wherever he is, but we must all know that like in every public place, the Western Wall has conduct and prayer orders as well – both in the men's section and in the women's section."

 

According to the rabbis, the current arrangements are based on Jewish traditions "from times immemorial," and have existed at the site for exactly 46 years, since the liberation of Jerusalem, allowing the site's proper management and attracting millions of visitors every year.

 

"There are those who have been trying in recent years to change the present situation, offending many and tainting the special atmosphere of holiness of this sacred place," the rabbis wrote of the Women of the Wall, concluding their call with a prayer "for the holy place's dignity and for the preservation of its nature."

 

Haredi school girls to make an appearance

Meanwhile, the religious and ultra-Orthodox publics are preparing to escalate the battle against the Women of the Wall. One of the planned activities is to hold prayer rallies against their monthly prayer.

 

Following the rabbis' call, teachers and students from yeshiva high schools and girls' schools are planning a trip to the Western Wall on Friday. The United Torah Judaism faction has called on haredi school girls to hold their prayer in honor of the first month of Sivan at the women's section in the holy site.


גורמים חרדים: "נשות הכותל חגגו בשבועות האחרונים כמה ניצחונות, אבל מהר מאוד הן יגלו שזה פועל בדיוק נגדן" (צילום: אוהד צויגנברג)

Haredim protest Women of Wall prayer (Archive photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

 

According to estimates, only several dozens of worshippers/protestors will arrive at the Western Wall plaza eventually, but a senior haredi source has promised that if the first time the Women of the Wall are allowed to wear prayer shawls will not be the last time – "there will be war."

 

As of the first day of the next month, Tammuz, haredi men and women are expected to flock to the Western Wall for a mass prayer before 7 am, virtually "blocking" the site – including the women's section – so that the Women of the Wall will be excluded from the place "in a natural manner."

 

"If needed, we'll bring all the greatest rabbis of the generation here," the source warned. "You can only imagine how many people will gather here for a morning prayer with Rabbi Ovadia (Yosef) or Rabbi (Aharon Yehuda Leib) Shteinman."

 

In order to prevent such a clash, he called on the legal authorities to come up with an immediate solution which would find a way around the lenient interpretation provided by the Jerusalem District Court for what women are permitted and forbidden to do at the Western Wall plaza, and allow the police to act against the group of female worshippers.

 

"The Women of the Wall celebrated a few victories in recent weeks, but they will quickly discover that it all goes against them," one of the protest's haredi organizers said. "The more recognition they receive, the more the religious and haredi public unites against them, and the religious Zionism rabbis' decision to join the battle proves it."

 

According to the source, "We may have many disagreements in regards to an equal share of the burden and the relations with (Finance Minister) Yair Lapid, but against the Women of the Wall we are all united."

 

 

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