Photo: Amit Shabi
Women's protest prayer
Photo: Amit Shabi

Despite disruptions, women hold protest prayer at Western Wall

Amid whistles and catcalls, women's groups stage Western Wall protest prayer against government's freeze of agreement to create an egalitarian prayer area; ‘The Kotel's desecration pains me,’ says counter-protester.

A few dozen women congregated Wednesday morning in the Western Wall plaza to hold a protest prayer over the delay of the "Kotel agreement" intended to create a new prayer area for all faiths and genders. They were met by a group of young girls trying to disrupt the prayer.



Next week the Supreme Court is set to discuss the agreement, after pressure by ultra-Orthodox factions in the government succeeded in bringing about a temporary freeze its implementation by the state, which also asked the court to reject petitions filed on the issue.


The women's protest prayer at the Western Wall (Photo: Amit Shabi) (Photo: Amit Shabi)
The women's protest prayer at the Western Wall (Photo: Amit Shabi)


Several religious girls against the proposed move arrived to the women's prayer area where they whistled and shouted in order to disturb the prayer in progress. Some of the girls, with their faces covered, even tried to physically enter the area where the protest prayer was taking place and succeeded in bringing the prayers to an almost complete halt.


Other girls held up signs asking, "How much longer will the City of God be debased to the depths of hell" and displayed different scriptures referring to Jerusalem and passages from the Shema (Hear O Israel) prayer.


Protests and counter-protests at the Western Wall    (צילום : גיל יוחנן)

Protests and counter-protests at the Western Wall


שליחה לחבר

 הקלידו את הקוד המוצג
תמונה חדשה

הסרטון נשלח לחברך


הטמעת הסרטון באתר שלך

 קוד להטמעה:


"The Kotel's desecration pains me," said Aviya, one of the girls protesting the prayers. "There are women and there are men, each with their own mitzvahs (commands) and place. They're degrading the Kotel. We always pray here, but not like that, not with tzitzit and tallit. That's not the way of God."


But according to activists of Women of the Wall, it is people like Aviya who are desecrating the Kotel's holiness. "We came here to pray and a group of girls came in screaming," commented Director of Women of the Wall Lesley Sachs. "They're desecrating the Kotel and no one's coming out against it publically, no rabbi is telling them they're desecrating this holy place."


The counter-protest disruptions (Photo: Amit Shabi) (Photo: Amit Shabi)
The counter-protest disruptions (Photo: Amit Shabi)


The girls interrupting the prayers, she claimed, were "inciting. "All we do is pray with all our hearts. Of course these girls' actions are a direct result of the incitement and lies in the Haredi media. We want it to be understood that women have a right to pray here as well according to our own ways and the Wall will not be continued to be managed like a synagogue in a Haredi neighborhood."


This past June, the government decided to freeze the implementation of an agreement to create an egalitarian prayer section near the wall, meaning any request to renew the proposed initiaitive will necessitate an additional government decision. Meanwhile, the Kotel status-quo will remain in place.


Women praying at the Wall (Photo: Amit Shabi) (Photo: Amit Shabi)
Women praying at the Wall (Photo: Amit Shabi)


Last month the state asked the Supreme Court to reject petitions made following this decision. The state claimed the "Robinson's Arch" complex has been renovated and has been continuously serving different factions as a prayer site for many years, including the Masorti (traditional) movement. The arch complex should suffice, the state argued, adding that the proposed agreement should not be implemented.


The state further claimed it has recently decided to renovate the arch complex at a cost of NIS 19 million, concluding therefore that the court had no reason to intervene on the matter.


פרסום ראשון: 08.23.17, 12:03
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