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January 24, 2017 / 26 Tevet, 5777
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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?

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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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Imported and Older Comments:

  1. It just isn’t a good week to be a haredi. Between Knesset members calling their opponents rashaim and amalekites, rioters at the Kotel, and the usual abuse issues… the tzibbur needs some serious introspection.

  2. Gary Dalin says:

    Wow and U.S. liberal Jewish women have nothing else to do. This is instead of birthing children. Pity.

  3. Gary Dalin says:

    Wow and U.S. liberal Jewish women have nothing else to do. This is instead of birthing children. Pity.

  4. Dan Silagi says:

    Wow! Haredi men have nothing better to do than desecrate the Kotel by rioting. That's not surprising, since most of them are shnorrers who live off the largesse of secular Israelis, biting the hands that feed them in the process.

  5. I agree with Gary AND Dan! Schnorrers with too much time on their hands versus American limousine liberals with too much time on their hands — may they continue to argue with each other, and may they leave the rest of us alone. And may G-d keep all of them far away from us.

    My only addition is to Gary — It's no pity at all that these ridiculous women aren't having babies. We should be happy that these geniuses aren't multiplying even to replacement levels. We all know where that arithmetic goes in the long run.

  6. Jay Sprueill says:

    When will the orthodox jews start crucifying thier childrens mothers for praying? Don't they realize women have souls also.

  7. Ira Mehlman says:

    Let me see if I've got this right: A bunch of Haredi men act like morons (to put it generously) again — at least this time they're not attacking 9-year-old girls. But somehow it is all the fault of "liberal Jewish women" because they should be home birthing children?

  8. Yori Yanover says:

    Ira Mehlman – Kind of. Because there are rules, and when you walk into someone's place, where they've been praying for hundreds of years, you respect their rules, not challenge them. If you did it in my house, I might react harshly, too.

  9. Ira Mehlman says:

    Yori Yanover, I was not aware that the Kotel was the exclusive property of the Haredim or any other particular group of Jews. I must also have been asleep when the Haredim liberated the Kotel in 1967. And, apparently Na'ama Margolese and her parents were not aware of who makes the rules on the streets of Bet Shemesh, when she tried to walk to school dressed like any other 9-year-old girl. Yes, I now understand that people who do not obey the rules, as one particular group see them, deserve to be spat upon and have things thrown at them.

  10. Gil Gilman says:

    So…the result of the balloting is…both male shnorrers and female schleppers are mixing it up to turn Torah on it's ear. It will now read, "My house shall be called a house of splutter for all peoples.

  11. Zahava Dalin-Kaptzan says:

    As a religious woman who actually lives in Israel, knows WOW, and respectfully disagrees with them, I have to respond.
    Before 1967, men and women did not always pray separately at the wall, evidence of which can be seen in old photographs. Fact: the western wall does not have the same halachic status as as a synogogue, which includes a separation of men and women during prayers. It is a place for all Jews to worship, not just those who uphold the strictest, rigid interpretation of halacha.
    Many WOW do not break halacha. They utilize every lenience and indirect clause (i.e. women can say Kaddish, nothing says women CANNOT wear teffilin if they are ritually pure) in order to connect to the Torah in a way meaningful to them. Please note that until thirty years ago Bnei Akiva boys and girls held hands and danced and sang the hora together; now that is considered a breach of a 'two-thousand year tradition'. The idea of what is and isn't halacha, rather than being static, constantly shifts to the right. WOW give attention to that shift by pulling to the left. Many of them, including the one or two that I know personally, are orthodox women with large families. They are not neccessarily 'liberal' in politics, either. And they are mostly Israeli. Just like the dati Israeli women around the country who meet in groups to pray together and read from the torah, in a halachically appropriate manner, every Rosh Hodesh.

    There is something deeply wrong when religious men who say the following are supported by other religious Jews: (the following was quoted by Ynet, from a 21-year old yeshiva student): "What these women are doing is disgraceful and against the Torah. We will continue to fight them. A woman draped in a tallit (prayer shawl) is ridiculous. Jews do not act this way. I am willing to get arrested. Some things justify a violent reaction." Maybe I'm crazy, but there is nothing more disgraceful to the torah than supposedly religious men physically harming women.
    So while these women (many of whom have already helped their husbands fulfill the MALE requirement of 'be fruitful and multiply' by having 1 boy and girl) are trying to connect to the torah, religious men are desecrating the torah by
    a. looking over the barrier to see what the women are wearing/doing during prayer, and
    b. physically intimidating them.
    If I wanted to be cute, I'd say, 'the ultra-orthodox men have nothing better to do. This is instead of working dayjobs and supporting their families. pity.'

  12. Arrogant men…. so religious they cannot see past their own pride and arrogance. Shameful behavior misrepresenting the Love of God and making more reasons for damage control. Pathetic religious spirits who abuse the right of all mankind to worship the Father!

  13. Gary I would punch you right in your mouth but good would that do but make you a martyr for the rest of you woman abusing losers.

  14. A Prayer for Rosh Hodesh Sivan, 5773 http://wp.me/p1Jt6N-15g.

  15. Someone elses place Yori? How dare you! Who the hell said the Kotel or Israel belong to you or Orthodox Jews! What you said is the worst hllul Ha'Shem! Are you that arrogant or jus that simple?

  16. Ira Mehlman says:

    Nicely said, Zahava! Stephen Holmstock, while you have every right to disagree with Gary, your response leaves little difference between you and the people who caused the disturbance at the Kotel. On a personal note, I can tell you that I have known Gary for many years and he is as decent and honorable a person as you are likely to meet (as I am sure Zahava would agree).

  17. Kenneth Mathews says:

    I wish the Haredim would stop falling for the manipulative games of feminists and their leftist journalist allies. Why not ignore these embittered women who come to the wall not to draw near to Hashem but to draw near to liberal press coverage. Don't fight them – ignore them and diligently teach your sons and daughters the beautiful magnificence of Hashem's created order of complementary roles of men and women. Feminists made the mistake of trying address the social problem of women being badly treated with a foolish ideology rather than with Torah. Feminists have succeeded in establishing greater equality but at the incredible cost of increasing sexual confusion and animosity between men and women, and in encourage bitterness between the sexes. Torah could have establish equality and end abuses without undermining the complementary role between men and women. Feminism gets worse and worse rebelling more and more against the required complementary roles that are the foundation of life, marriage, family and children.

  18. Jacqueline Bourg says:

    Make LOVE….not war. STOP persecuting your BABY MACHINES.

  19. Zahava Dalin-Kaptzan says:

    I deleted my last post because it was published accidentallty, in place of a later, edited version. It was meant as a general explanation of the position of WOW and explains why those who vilify them misunderstand them. Much of my words were taken from MK Rabbi Dov Lipman, who is not a supporter of WOW by any means, but also respects their right to pray at the Western Wall unmolested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5O-qinTh70

  20. Ben Yosef Shomer says:

    Stephen Holmstock ETC, do you think you are better than the closed minded hareidim? You are a Joke….. From now on, WE ARE ALL WITH THE HAREIDIM. You morons, reformist, feminist, leftist and any other -ist- your pig sacrifices are unacceptable, and we will resist as is proper

  21. Charlie Hall says:

    "where they've been praying for hundreds of years"

    Not hundreds of years. 45 years. The Kotel did not become a charedi synagogue until 1967. What permitted THAT change of minhag?

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