Photo Credit: Kikar HaShabbat
5,000 women arrived at the Kotel before the WOW and packed the women's section.

Some 150 Women of the Wall arrived at the Western Wall plaza Monday morning, but were not allowed to pray in the women’s section, despite the fact that they had been assigned an area there.

Police said that there was no room for the Women of the Wall because some five thousand seminar girls had come there earlier. Hundreds of Haredim also prevented the WOW from entering the Western Wall area.

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In the end, police allowed the women to pray at the entrance to the plaza and fenced an enclosure around them there.

One seminar girl was arrested on a charge of rioting.

The WOW organization reported that police surrendered to Haredi bullying. They argued that had they come to the Kotel without police escort they would occupy a spot near the Wall as they had done each month for half a century.

According to Kikar Hashabbat, hundreds of police were deployed Monday morning at the Western Wall for the monthly provocation by Women of the Wall. But after the plaza had become packed with thousands of seminar girls, police decided the only safe move was to keep the Women of the Wall away. Dozen of plainclothes detectives were dispersed around the Kotel Plaza, monitoring and reporting.

The decision to keep the heavily outnumbered WOW away probably prevented a major, possibly violent clash.

Photo credit: Kikar HaShabbat
Photo credit: Kikar HaShabbat
Photo credit: Kikar HaShabbat

The following is part of JTA’s take on this morning’s events at the Kotel:

“It sucks,” Women of the Wall’s chairwoman, Anat Hoffman, told JTA during the service. “It was a surprise.”

A police spokeswoman told JTA that the barricade was placed far from the wall for the women’s “personal safety.”

Thousands of haredi Orthodox girls and women arrived ahead of the Women of the Wall, packing the women’s section of the Western Wall plaza, praying silently and blocking Women of the Wall from entering.

A crowd of mostly male haredi Orthodox protesters surrounded the barricade, with some protesters singing and yelling epithets such as “Get out, Nazis!” Later in the service, protesters threw eggs and a bottle of water at the women, striking a male supporter of the group in the head.

Midway through the service, the women crowded close to the barricade, face to face with the protesters. The women held their prayer books in the air and sang loudly, trying to outmatch the chants from the other side of the police line.

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Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

23 COMMENTS

  1. It's wonderful that the Haredi community is demonstrating against the women of the wall; they can then bus the same girls over to the knesset to demonstrate against military service.
    They will then have managed to alienate all of Israeli society at once; and all without violation the new issur of working at all.

  2. Charles Hoffman · I doubt very much that the vast majority of Israelis give a hoot about the WOW. They'rea foreign transplant that is not growing beyond its original size much. The fact is they could only get 150 women together today, compared with 350 last month. It's pure politics, and it's very much anti-Jewish politics. I was delighted with the seminary action this morning. About time.

  3. What does it say to the world when Jews cannot get along with Jews? that they accoust and assault one another? that they disrespect and violate each others religious rights? that they render dispensible a democratic process, when it is inconvenient? that Jewish youths are at the center of this controversy? What does this say to the rest of the world about Jews who are supposed to lead the world in ethics, morality, and righteous conduct? What does it say that these goings on are occurring during the Three Weeks, as we fast approach the 9th of Av? What does this say about us?

  4. those girls were there because they were bussed there by their Rebbes. They have even less interest in the matter and are being used as pawns. If you're delighted with a collection of cranky old men manipulating a bunch of teenage girls, I hope you never have a daughter

  5. It's not that they're preventing them from praying at all. They're simply making a statement that here, at the supposed and believed as holiest place IN THE WORLD, tradition should be kept to the hilt. Straight out in the laws of the Holy Temple it does mention that there was a women's gallery. They're saying, Women of the Wall, do your newly created rituals elsewhere – here tradition must be kept.

  6. So being in favor of equal rights for women is "anti-Jewish politics?
    So freedom to worship as one wishes is "anti-Jewish politics?"

    That sure isn't the Judaism I grew up with. Shame on you, Yori.

  7. Yes, they were making a statement, that it's perfectly OK for women to wear tefillin and tallises. They were actually making a broader statement, which is that they won't be pushed around by a bunch of mysogynists led by some rabbi who was born in 1912 and who thinks it's still 1913. More power to WOW!

  8. How holy is a wall, built to protect, enclose and buttress, IN RELATIONSHIP TO the mount it was made for? and yet, is there not one, but two mosques upon it? What does it say when we squable over methodology, about how to love and pray to our God, when the underlying point is born out of an individual’s sense of abject love for God? what does it say when the Temple Mount, the Cave of Machpelah, the Tomb of Rachel, the Tomb of Joseph, Mount Sinai, Mount Nebo, Mount Moriah, Mount Ararat, Mount Hor and any other major site meaningful to Jews is in the possession of and/controlled by non-jews and yet we are at each others throats about the technical refinements of loving and blessing God in this way or that, while oblivious to the larger picture at hand? What does it say about the collective condition of Jews and Judaism? what does it say?

  9. noone prevented anyone from doing things….if i want to go to bircas kohanim on chol hamoed and its already crowded should i complain that i was 'prevented from going in?'. if other people came earlier to pray, i cant understand the issue

  10. Esther, you are wrong! The 5000 frum girls came earlier specifically to keep the WoW OUT! THAT was the only reason why they were all there. This is not an innocent case of the kotel being too crowded.

  11. im not wrong and neither are you. This is a very complicated issue and dont think reading just one write-up in the Jewish Press shows all sides fairly and gives all the background and reasons of why things took place as they did.

  12. I've read a lot on the topic & one of my former BY HS mates is a big WoW activist so she posts things about it all the time. I agree it's complicated but I hate the bullying that my fellow frum ppl. are doing. It embarrasses me greatly.

  13. The irony is that the "hareidim" are unintentionally playing directly into the hands of the WoW by giving them so much attention. Had the WoW been ignored, none of us would have even heard of them and they would soon give up their show. They thrive on the attention!

  14. exactly what I think Mordechai. in the meantime, like Batya said – a huge chillul hashem in front of the kotel no less. i'm sure god is simply thrilled to see this happening on a makom kadosh – and all in his name no less…..

  15. Charles Hoffman – There's no such thing as spontaneous demonstrations. The WOW are a well financed organization whose mainstay are donations they solicit with great skill, and which depend on the regular Kotel provocation. They up the ante from one month to the next (if you've followed my articles you'd know) to keep the excitement. As to daughters — what say we keep family out of the discussion?

  16. Israel Man – Would these same women walk into a mosque or a Shintu temple with their shoes on? Of course not, because they respect the sentiments of the congregation. But at the Kotel they have no regard to the authority which has told them not to wear talit and tefillin at the site. This is not preventing Jews from praying, but stopping rude American Jews from behaving like they own the Kotel.

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