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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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WOW and Splinter Group O-WOW Fighting over Kotel Deal

A recent prayer service at the Kotel, involving hundreds of different God-loving Jewish men and women, who meditated together, respectful of each other's faith and sentiments. Not… Actually, that one was a total zoo, back on July 08, 2013, Rosh Chodesh Av.

A recent prayer service at the Kotel, involving hundreds of different God-loving Jewish men and women, who meditated together, respectful of each other's faith and sentiments. Not… Actually, that one was a total zoo, back on July 08, 2013, Rosh Chodesh Av.
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90

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Remember the scene in Life of Brian, where the different splinter groups of the Judean Liberation Movement run into each other and start a brawl? Well, you’re in for a treat.

A group of Women of the Wall supporters, mostly from the United States, have split off over the negotiations between WOW and the Israeli government. The women have named their splinter organization Original Women of the Wall, or O-WOW, and plan to hold their own services at the Wall.

According to Aliza Lipkin, blogging for Times of Israel, O-Wow consists of some founding members that have not lost sight of the original concept, which is to pray as they please by the Western Wall. The compromise of moving to an egalitarian section that has been offered in exchange for WoW’s list of demands surely misses the point. They want to pray at the Kotel, where they have been the past 25 years and to be acknowledged as having the right to pray there. And so two steps forward three steps back.

Now, if we could stage a brawl involving everybody: the Women of the Wall, the Women against the Women of the Wall, Haredim who hate the Women of the wall, seminary girls bused in to mess with the Women of the Wall, and, possibly, the players and coaches of the Miami Dolphins – we could worship God like He hasn’t been worshipped since the deluge.

Incidentally, I’ve been saying for a long time that all the WOWs should get the entire Kotel, which is, basically, the supporting wall of the real thing, the Temple Mount up above – and let the rest of the Jews move up a rung to God’s real place. But nobody listens to me.

Meanwhile, according to Haaretz, Women of the Wall is close to approving an agreement with the Israeli government to move the group’s monthly prayer service to a new egalitarian area.

The agreement comes after months of negotiations between the organization and an Israeli government committee.

In October, the Women of the Wall presented 16 conditions under which the group would move its monthly prayer service to an egalitarian section of the Western Wall’s plaza now under construction.

The conditions pertain to the section’s size, appearance, management, accessibility, budget and name. Taken together, the conditions mandate that the new section be treated as equal to the existing Western Wall plaza.

Women of the Wall chairwoman Anat Hoffman said in a letter sent to key supporters of the organization that a special government committee headed by Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit had agreed to most of the conditions, reported Haaretz, which obtained a copy of the letter.

The letter reportedly said the committee’s recommendations would be submitted to the Cabinet for approval in the coming weeks and that the egalitarian area would be ready in “a year or more,” Haaretz reported.

The site will have a mobile, temporary mechitzah for the monthly prayer services since some of the members are Orthodox and do not pray with men, according to the letter.

The committee also reportedly agreed to allow group members to jointly oversee administration of the egalitarian space, according to Haaretz.

Hoffman said in the letter that the group will continue to work to gain permission to bring its own Torah scroll to the site once the negotiations are completed. She also said, according to Haaretz, that the group will continue to pray in the women’s section “until the full implementation of the report’s agreed-upon recommendations.”

JTA content was used in this report.

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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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2 Responses to “WOW and Splinter Group O-WOW Fighting over Kotel Deal”

  1. …and what a life it was… ;)

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