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A poster calling on Haredim to come protest at the Kotel.
A poster calling on Haredim to come protest at the Kotel.

On Tuesday, the first of the month of Nissan (March 12), the Women will meet as they do each month, a 7 AM Rosh Hodesh prayer on the women’s side of the Western Wall. A press release sent out by the organization is warning that this weekend the Haredi neighborhoods of Jerusalem are plastered with pashk’villim—wall posters dealing with public issues, usually in an excited style—against the Women of the Wall. The posters are calling on Haredim to come in droves to the Kotel on Rosh Hodesh morning.

One poster reads:

Help!

The “Western Wall” Is Being Treaded on and Desecrated

by a group of women called “Women of the Kotel,” who wish to desecrate the Kotel on Tuesday, Rosh Chodesh Nissan, 5773, a7 7 in the morning.

Praying men and women, please come to attend the Rosh Chodesh prayer at the Western Wall on that day and protest against the desecration of holiness.

Anyone who cares about the place from which the Shechina (God’s emanation on earth) never budged must come to protest and cry out.

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The Women of the Wall point out that although there were no rabbis’ signatures on the posters, it appears someone is interested in opposing the group, “despite the relative quiet of the last few months.”

They note that several prayer sessions, including their Purim celebration have gone without incident, no clashes with any Haredim at the site—although the police still detained 43 of the women over the past six months. It appears that the Jewish men who actually come to the Kotel regularly to pray have grown to tolerate the once-a-month phenomenon.

The arrests have been conducted in line with the law that prohibits women from wearing prayer shawls at the Kotel, regardless of whether or not they cause a disturbance.

If you live in faraway America, a continent not blessed with as many holy walls, you may still be able to support or protest the Women of the Wall and their right to equal use of the Western Wall, as hundreds are expected to be organizing solidarity rallies and prayer services all over the U.S. come March 12.

The most notable rally will be New York’s Wake Up for Religious Tolerance at Union Square, in midtown Manhattan, where hundreds are expected to attend, representing more than 40 participating organizations. Look for similar, though smaller events in Washington, DC and San Francisco outside the Israeli missions, and in Cleveland, Chicago and an undisclosed location in Florida.

Groups will also gather in solidarity on university campuses at the University of Pennsylvania and at Brandeis University.

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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.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Since when has the Western Wall become a symbol of Haredi extremism? If Haredi men have a problem praying next to women, they can go to the desert and pound sand. As the Negev is technically part of the Sahara, there's lots of sand for them to pound.

    I fully support the Women of the Wall and their efforts to live and worship on an equal footing (and not separate but equal) with men.

    It's the haredim, not women who wish to pray as equals, who are descrating the Western Wall, and despoiling Judaism. We are not the Taliban.

  2. Israel is in my DNA. It is and was always my first love, as my Mother was expecting me while on a trip to Kever Rachel in 1947. It literally breaks my heart to speak ill in any way of Israel. However, the situation at the Wall is abhorrent to every Jew in every land. Where would Haredi men be without women? Where is their respect and Kavod? They ought to sing "Eyshet Chayil "every day; not only on Erev Shabbat! Halacha is a living , breathing document; the Haredim are murdering it when they behave in a manner that is tearing Israel apart. Midot? Civilty? Is THEIR Halacha devoid of these? They are showing by example to their children how NOT to behave to their fellow Jew. The cracks in the Wall are weeping as they observe the sadistic actions of the Haredi men, and their enabling spouses. If they are waiting for the Mashiach, they are waiting for naught; the Mashiach wants nothing to do with actions such as these brazenly and defiantly against nature committed at the Kotel; a place for all genders. rockimg@aol.com

  3. during tefilah the halacha for all Jews is that women and men should pray seperatly. i am not haredi . i am modern orthodox and have always prayed with a mechitza. the issue with the kotel is people are holding prayer sessions 24/7 so there is a constant need for separation. had the kotel set certain hours for no prayers then i could see women visiting the entire area during those hours

  4. Well, that's your problem if you can't pray with a woman worshipping next to you. God doesn't have a problem with co-educational Christian services, why should God have a problem here? It seems to me that 100 years ago, when my traditional orthodox great-grandparents went to shul, the rules weren't even 10% as silly as they are now.

  5. King Solomon, if you believe what's in the Bible, also had thousands of slaves. This was normal if you were the king back in 900 B.C. but it's not 900 B.C. anymore. Thus, to make a long story real short, yes, I'm smart enough to challenge what King Solomon designated.

    Got a problem with that?

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