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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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Haredi Men Throw Garbage on WOW, Orthodox Women Keep the Peace

UTJ and WOW argue over the halacha of women's prayer -- can Mashiach be too far?

Photo Credit: Yoav Dudkevich

At the Western Wall Friday morning, Haredi men attacked the Women of the Wall in the women’s section, Reshet Bet reported.

The WOW were there as they have done every Rosh Chodesh, clad in tallitot and tefillin, except that this time their prayer service had been sanctioned by a decision of Jerusalem magistrate court.

Haredi men are cursing the praying women, and occasionally throw water bottles and garbage at them. Many police officers are dividing the women’s section from the men’s. One Haredi man was arrested for violating public order.

Hundreds of Orthodox seminary students have also come to respond to the WOW service, but there have been no violent encounters in the women’s section.

Chairperson of the Knesset Interior Committee, Likud MK Miri Regev, who is Orthodox, said that we must respect all the Jewish denominations in Israel, but at the Kotel we must keep the local custom (minhag hamakon) which prohibits women’s wearing tallit and teffilin. According to Regev, the best solution would be a compromise that has already been approved by the court – preparing a special mixed prayer area near Robinson’s Arch.

MK Regev also told Reshet Bet that Jewish prayer must also be permitted on the Temple Mount. She argued that Israel had relinquished its sovereignty there, and this move has to be corrected, to allow Muslims and Jews to pray there.

United Torah Judaism MK Yaakov Asher criticized WOW, saying they are acting contrary to halacha and reason, seeking to start provocations at the sacred site.

WOW spokesperson Oshrat ben Shimmshon said in response that Orthodox rabbis have ruled that there is no halachic reason to prevent women from praying with a tallit and tefillin, as well as read from the Torah in public. She stressed that members of her organization are careful to maintain the public order, but it appears there are interest groups who create provocations to prevent the prayers of the Women of the Wall.

Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky saidthat the events of this morning at the Western Wall dramatically reinforce the urgent need for a sustainable solution which will allow any Jew, group of Jews or Jewish community to pray at the Western Wall according to their own custom.

Sharansky also praised police for their level-headed action in the very difficult circumstances, dealing with the rioters while helping ensure that those engaged in prayer could do so.

Yori Yanover

About the Author: 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.

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