Women of the Wall at prayer
Photo: Gali Tibbon
Dozens of haredim clashed Monday morning with around 200 worshippers from the Women of the Wall group at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The men were disturbed by the mixed prayer taking place as well as the women's singing.
Tal Steiner, a spokeswoman for the group, told Ynet that ultra-Orthodox women praying at the holy site had yelled curses at them. "They yelled 'Nazis', 'Christians', 'Go marry priests', and 'God should destroy you'," Steiner said.
Group of 29 Toronto area rabbis publish open letter to Israeli ambassador, consul-general to Canada voicing concern over arrest, interrogation of two Women of the Wall, Nofrat Fenkel, Anat Hoffman. Letter asks how 'such a travesty' could be 'tolerated within Jewish state itself'
The men's side of the Western Wall also joined in, yelling at the Women of the Wall and disrupting their prayer.
Despite the previous arrest of a woman belonging to the group, police took the women's side and calmed the worshippers. The conflict was halted during the reading of the Torah, when the worshippers moved to an area sanctified for women's prayer.
The director of the Reform Movement, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, said that "the growing number of Israelis attending equal prayers at the Western Wall proves that the Israeli public is not willing to give up the Wall and abandon it to a loud, jealous, and violent minority".
"The battle over the manner of prayer at the Western Wall is part of a vast struggle for the image of the Israeli public as a society of equality," Rabbi Kariv added.
Yizhar Hess, director of the Conservative Movement, said, "We were excited to see teens from the Conservative Movement's youth group take part in the important battle to release the Western Wall from the grip of the haredim."
But Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and the holy sites of Israel, released a statement condemning the women's group.
"As a place dear to the heart of every Jew, every movement, and every world view, the Western Wall must remain a place that unifies rather than separates the people of Israel. The different movements need to understand the complexity and sensitivity of the Western Wall, and leave it outside the borders of conflict," the statement from the rabbi's office said.
Efrat Weiss contributed to this report