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December 1, 2015 / 19 Kislev, 5776
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Paratroopers to Join Women of the Wall in Rosh Chodesh Prayers (Update)

The law prohibits "religious ceremony not according to local custom."


Photo Credit: Facebook

On Monday, February 11, which is Rosh Chodesh Adar, the Women of the Kotel are planning to hold Rosh Chodesh services at the Kotel.

The law, as cited on the Women of the Wall’s website, prohibits “religious ceremony not according to local custom, which may hurt the feelings of the worshipers toward the place” at the Kotel. This rule was added, according to the same website, “especially to limit the worshiping of Women of the Wall, and violating it may result in a punishment of six to twelve months in prison or a fine of about $130.

Update: On Monday, the Women of the Wall will be joined by members of the 66th Battalion, the paratroopers who liberated Jerusalem and the Western Wall in the 1967 Six Day War. The men, 46 years later, have organized in support of Women of the Wall, to “continue to liberate the holy site and ensure religious freedom and freedom of worship for Jews at the Western Wall.”

An email released by WOW reads:

“We will meet at 7AM and it will be a historic moment at the Western Wall. The men who liberated the Wall in ’67 will stand up, stand with, Women of the Wall, despite the police and the authorities of the holy site, in the name of social justice, women’s rights and religious freedom. All of this, in the wake of the the latest Supreme Court petition as well as the process which Natan Sharansky is coordinating to research recommendations to Prime Minister Netanyahu in hopes of finding a solution to the inequalities at the wall, is creating a real potential for change in Israel- in pluralism, religious freedom, women’s rights and the inclusion of women in the public sphere.”

Great provocations and expressions of outrage are expected by many on all sides…

The Jewish Press inquired if the Women of the Wall are planning to later in the month read the Megillah at the Robinson Arch—away from the open part of the Kotel—or in the Ladies’ section by the Kotel.

Spokesperson Shira Pruce responded by email: “Yes, that is the plan. We have been doing this for years and there have never been any problems, protests or disturbances. We hope that this will still be the case this year but obviously, this past year has had many new challenges, so anything could happen.”

Last October, The Jewish Press polled its readers on the “Women at the Wall” who pray with Talit and Teffilin and read the Torah at the Kotel.

The biggest response, 39%, came from readers supporting the view that the women “have every right to pray at the Kotel whichever way they wish.

Second biggest, 24%, held the women “should respect the existing Orthodox prayer customs at the Kotel. And 9% encouraged them to pray at the Robinson’s Arch section of the Kotel, so they won’t offend the more traditional worshipers.

Only 5% thought they were a provocation and should be removed by force.

For a critique of Women of the Wall from an Orthodox point of view, read Trojan Horse at the Western Wall by Rabbi Avi Shafran.

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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6 Responses to “Paratroopers to Join Women of the Wall in Rosh Chodesh Prayers (Update)”

  1. Liad Bar-el says:

    “Last October, The Jewish Press polled its readers…” After having worked in a research center, I’ve noticed that the JPress polls are not objective whatsoever and thus are not reliable. The JPress research polls are indicative of the Meretz party’s research to prove that the land of Israel does not belong to the Jews and thus we have had thousands upon thousands of Jewish homes destroyed needlessly and illegally. The JPress staff should be ashamed of themselves to allow such a weak and biased effort on line which does nothing but pollute the public’s minds with falsehoods and wastes peoples’ time reading them. If the JPress staff is serious about presenting a research poll to the public, then hire that effort out to a reliable research organization instead of giving it to someone’s secretary who would rather talk about lady’s underwear during her 4 hour morning coffee break.

  2. Alex Shapiro says:

    The title of the article is misleading. It says "The law prohibits 'religious ceremony not according to local custom.'" So you call the Halacha, the Jewish Law developed by the Jewish sages for thousands years a 'local custom'? Israel is democratic and pluralistic society where everyone can practice any religion he or she likes, including reform and conservative groups, but in their private locations. The Western Wall was the location of the ancient Jewish Temple. So how about showing some respect and not try to force other religions as being equal to the religion of Moses the Patriarch at that place?

  3. Charlie Hall says:

    It is not so clear that there is any halachic prohibition at all with what the Women at the Wall try to do.

    And your statement that the Western Wall was the site of the ancient Jewish Temple is clearly incorrect.

  4. Chaiya Eitan says:

    Wow – Kol HaKavod to those paratroopers!

  5. Chaiya Eitan says:

    Wow – Kol HaKavod to those paratroopers!

  6. Chaiya Eitan says:

    This poll was probably done the way all their other polls are done – I'm looking at one on the right side of this page at the moment – right on the web site. It was not done on the phone by a secretary…or anyone else. And what kind of a statement is that to make describing a secretary working there???

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