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'We won’t let women of provocation harm Western Wall's sanctity,' says rally organizer (archives) Photo: Gil Yohanan
'We won’t let women of provocation harm Western Wall's sanctity,' says rally organizer (archives) Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
 

Rabbis: Protest against Women of Wall

Haredi public urged to face liberal female worshippers during their monthly prayer at Western Wall on Sunday. In bid to prevent violence, rabbis rule that only married men may participate in rally

Kobi Nachshoni
Published: 06.07.13, 07:49 / Israel Jewish Scene

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox men are expected to participate in a prayer and protest rally against member of the Women of the Wall organization, which will take place early next week at the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem.

 

In an ad published Friday in the haredi press, rabbis and rebbes call on the haredi public to hold a mass prayer at the holy site on Sunday, the first day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, at 6:30 am, at the same time the female worshippers hold their monthly Rosh Codesh (first day of the month) prayer.

 

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Yet in order to avoid the acts of provocation and violence witnessed during last month's prayer, the rabbis ruled that only married men would participate in the rally and not young yeshiva students.

 

Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus (United Torah Judaism), one of the protest's organizers, told Ynet: "We will do all we can so that the Western Wall remains a place loyal to the original Jewish tradition, and won't let the women of provocation harm its sanctity."

 

He estimated that more than 10,000 men and women would take part in the rally.

 

Although the rabbis' letter does not include their names, the fact that it is published in the official publications of the UTJ and Shas parties means it has been endorsed by leaders of the different denominations – Ashkenazim, Hasidim, Lithuanian and Sephardim.

 

Threatening letters, graffiti

A day before last month's Rosh Chodesh prayer, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman called on haredi seminary girls to face the Women of the Wall at the holy site in order to overshadow their prayer.

 

Thousands of seminary students accepted the rabbis' call and arrived at the Western Wall plaza on the morning of the prayer. They were joined by thousands of young haredi men.

 

A mass brawl erupted at the site at around 6:30 am, during which garbage, water, coffee and various objects were flung at dozens of Women of the Wall and police forming a human barrier between the female group and the haredi protestors. Three yeshiva students were detained during the clashes. Two police officers were injured lightly.

 

Several days ago, Israel's Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar received threatening letters stating that "if the Women of the Wall are not allowed to pray according to our ways and custom, we will fight you with all measures, and you will return home with 100 bodies of haredim."

 

The paper included a picture of a gun with the caption, "We will no longer practice restraint. We will re-liberate the Western Wall."

 

A similar letter was sent to the rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, Shmuel Rabinowitz, and to Knesset Member Moshe Gafni (UTJ).

 

About two weeks ago, vandals spray-painted threats on the apartment door of an executive board member of the Women of the Wall organization, Peggy Cidor, in what seemed to be a haredi version of the "price tag" acts against the liberal female worshippers.

 

Entitled "Torah tag," the graffiti read: "Peggy, you're the first. We know where you live. Jerusalem is holly. The Western Wall would not be forfeited. The Women of the Wall are villains."

 

In late April, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that women praying at the Western Wall need not fear police threats of arrest if seen wearing traditional ceremonial attire associated with the religion’s males.

 

The order, which said women may pray with prayer shawls and phylacteries, was seen as a major victory the Women of the Wall group, which has been struggling for almost 25-years against police and Orthodox Jewish authorities in charge of the site, for the right to defy traditional restrictions.

 

The court said that the wearing of traditional male prayer accessories by women was not a violation of “local custom” or a “provocation,” the legal reasoning that allows police to act. The ruling also said that women were not obligated to pray at the alternative Robinson’s Arch site.

 

 

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