Members of the multi-denominational feminist organization gather and pray at the Western Wall once a month, and have invited supporters to join the 30-year celebration and prayer this coming Friday. In response, ultra-Orthodox organizations decided to stage a major protest at the same time and place against non-Orthodox worship.
The protest in unique in uniting the Religious- Zionist sector with the ultra-Orthodox, is expected to lead to a big turn up.
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the most senior leaders of the Haredi public, called for the upcoming protest, as did several other religious organizations and a widespread social media campaign against the Reform movement that called the public to participate in the protest.
The social media campaign included videos slamming the women of the wall, and a fictitious Yedioth Ahronoth cover saying that “for the first time since 1967, the Western Wall has been conquered — by the Reform.” The bottom line in the cover said: “this is a cover we must prevent (from ever occurring).”
The Chazon Movement, one of the organizations behind the social media campaign, was also behind the fictitious newspaper page. It included fabricated citations from non-Orthodox worshipers celebrating their victory, and articles titled “the Rabbinate is done with,” and “Assimilation is no longer a slur.”
The organization also posted videos in which it is claimed that the Women of the Wall are extreme leftists who work to end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.
“Chazon’s campaign is a continuation of their long-time violent, racist and inciting behavior,” said the Women of the Wall in response. “This organization popped out of nowhere and its sole agenda is to divide, incite and cause a rift within the Jewish world, and spread lies and evil.”
“Our organization will not be deterred at all. We will continue to pray in the Western Wall in our own way, and no one will frighten us,” they said.
The Women of the Wall have decided to hold a festive prayer this upcoming Friday at 6:30 am, the first day of the Jewish month of Adar, which coincides with International Women’s Day this year. They asked the Rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitch, to use the loudspeaker system, available to all other major events that take place at the Western Wall Plaza, but were refused.
“Women using loudspeakers is against religious law, as determined the sages,” said Rabinovitch. “It doesn’t coincide with the customs of this place.”
The Women’s organization said in response that “the government is allowing extremists to determine the ‘customs of the place’ at the holy site,” and slammed Rabinovitch for banning all non-Orthodox practice from the Western Wall.
“The Western Wall Rabbi is a public servant who is supposed to serve all worshipers, whatever their practice is,” said Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center.
“We refuse to give in to practices that silence women,” Hoffman said. “On International Women’s Day we will continue to struggle for women’s right to worship, and we won’t let Rabinovitch or any other extremist factors to determine the discourse in such an aggressive ugly manner,” Hoffman concluded.