Women Arrested For Wearing Prayer Shawls At Western Wall
08/19/12
Photo Galleria: 

Jerusalem police arrested and detained four women for wearing prayer shawls at the Western Wall.

The women, members of Women of the Wall, were arrested Sunday during morning prayers, which included special prayers for the new Hebrew month of Elul.

Women of the Wall holds a special prayer service at the Western Wall each month for Rosh Chodesh, or the beginning of new month. The group has met once a month at the back of the women's section at the Western Wall for the last 20 years.

A blog post filed on the Women of the Wall's website Sunday described the arrest of the four women, saying that they were wearing traditional-looking prayer shawls, or tallitot – white with blue or black stripes -- and "were arrested mid-prayer" as they "stood amongst dozens of women who wore colorful prayer shawls and were left alone by police."

The women were arrested for “behavior that endangers the public peace” and wearing prayer shawls. They have been forbidden to enter the Western Wall Plaza for the next 50 days, according to the organization.

“The time has come to reclaim and liberate the Kotel from the grasp of a handful of Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) extremists who, with the cooperation of the Israeli authorities, exclude the majority of Israelis and Jews from the Western Wall,” said Anat Hoffman, Women of the Wall chairwoman, in a statement.

The rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, in a statement issued Sunday expressed "shock and deep sorrow" over the behavior of the group.

"Many worshipers who came to pray Sunday morning instead were forced to witness a fanatical political struggle by an extremist group which undermines the sanctity of the Wall," the statement said, calling the Western Wall "a place of unity. "

"I urge the authorities to prevent this repeated behavior, aimed at provocation and hurt feelings," the rabbi's statement concluded.

In 2003, Israel's Supreme Court upheld a government ban on women wearing tefillin or tallitot, or reading from a Torah scroll at the Western Wall.

In June, Israeli police detained a woman wearing a tallit at the Western Wall and later questioned her for four hours after asking her to wear her prayer shawl as a scarf. In May, three women from Women of the Wall were stopped for questioning after praying at the Wall in prayer shawls. They also had been asked to wear the tallitot as scarves rather than shawls.

Last Update:

08/28/2012 - 06:06

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.

The entire Western wall is owned by: There should be sections if certain people feel offended by others.

The wall was never designed to be the property of only one special group of men.
What is being done in the name of the Haredi, is to turn many Jews away from Judaism, due to the way that they are harrassing and intimidating Jewish women who wish to pray at the wall.
The first time that I went to the wall was in 1970 and it was open to anyone. I have been to the wall every time I went to Israel, and each time I go, the women's section gets smaller and smaller.
If it wasn't for women, there would be many less Jews in synagogues, as leaders of Jewish communal organizations, and mothers of the next generation of Jews.
It is time to have the wall under the the management of the government rather than a fanatic group of people who do not understand that there are many Jewish women who want to observe their religious beliefs, and have the right and freedom to pray at the wall.
My husband and I are supporters of the existence of a special state for Jews, but we are very embarrassed by what we are seeing in Israel these days in the attitudes towards women.
I am one of the lay leaders in my congregation and I love "teaching" in my prayer services either about the history or meaning of a special prayer, and giving a d'var torah.
With all the tzouris that Israel faces liviing in a troubled part of the world, we do NOT need such internal conflicts and issues such as forbidding women to wear a prayer shawl when praying, or telling them that their prayers are disturbing other people from praying.
Let us all pray for SHALOM!

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.