As I pushed through the jampacked Kotel on Rosh Hodesh Sivan, thousands of religious girls pointed at my kippa and screamed in my face. Not only did they stick out their tongues, but they made the shape of a gun with their hands and rotated between pointing it at their heads and pointing it at mine. Scanning through the faces of the young girls, I wondered if in a different setting, we could’ve been braiding challah or lighting Shabbat candles together as friends. Some of their eyes leaked with hatrid and disgust, while some overflowed with intrigue, curiosity, and at times boredom. A large portion of the girls seemed to be mulling about, happy to be spending time with friends, and waiting for us to leave.
Women were wearing prayer shawls in violation of Wall regulations, police say.
(Adds comment from detained female rabbi, further comment from Jewish Agency)
Ten women were detained at the Western Wall on Monday, the highest number held at one time amid a spate of similar incidents in recent months, according to a press release from Women of the Wall, a Jerusalem-based group that has been agitating for more than 20 years for the right of women to pray audibly as a group at the Wall.
Anat Hoffman, Israeli feminist arrested for Kotel service, finds cause for optimism as well as anger.
Special To The Jewish Week
It is the first morning of the Hebrew month of Kislev, and ordinarily Anat Hoffman would be surrounded by a diverse community of women celebrating Rosh Chodesh, singing in the shadow of Judaism’s holiest site, the Kotel. Instead, Hoffman, who is 58 and the chairwoman of the multidenominational prayer group known as Women of the Wall, sits on the other side of the world in a Manhattan restaurant, railing and reflecting — and rejoicing a bit too.
Six women were detained by Jerusalem police for wearing prayer shawls at the Western Wall as more than 100 women gathered there for the monthly Women of the Wall service.
The detainments Thursday, on the first day of the Hebrew month Kislev, follow the arrest at last month's service of Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman. Hoffman was not at Thursday’s service, as she was banned from the Wall for 30 days following her arrest on Oct. 17.
The detainments occurred before the service began as women were putting on their tallitot.
Wall is a symbol of connection with Israel for "each and every Jew," Jewish Agency head writes.
Pressure mounted on Israel this week to consider relaxing the restrictions governing prayer and behavior in place at the Western Wall, with the head of the Jewish Agency writing a letter to the government that expressed “deep concern” about policies at Judaism’s holiest site.
Twenty-four years ago, in December 1988, a group of us, women from the diaspora, carried a Torah scroll to the women’s side of the Kotel, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, and began chanting from it. We had been attending a conference about women held by the American Jewish Congress, and represented a cross section of Jewish denominations. Soon after our service began, a haredi woman nearby started shouting that women were not permitted to read from a Torah scroll.