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:
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.
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.