An advertisement for Women of the Wall defaced on an Egged bus in Meah Shearim this week. .
(photo credit: COURTESY WOMEN OF THE WALL)
One week after Women of the Wall launched an ad campaign promoting bat mitzva ceremonies at the Western Wall on Egged buses in Jerusalem, the women’s prayer rights group said on Monday night that several of the advertisements have been defaced by ultra-Orthodox extremists.
According to the organization, the campaign is designed to encourage girls to hold bat mitzva ceremonies at the holy site, with a Torah scroll if they choose, although women are presently unable to read from the Torah at the site under current religious regulations.
Women of the Wall director Lesly Sachs said 50 percent of the images featuring young women were torn down, and the tires of some of the public buses were slashed, in the primarily ultra-orthodox neighborhood of Mea She’arim.
“It is sad to yet again see the ultra-Orthodox men take the law into their own hands and using Judaism as an excuse for the use of force, threat and violence against women,” Sachs said. “We call on ultra-Orthodox leadership to strongly denounce this act of violence and all others.”
Last week, Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall and the holy sites, dismissed the bat mitzva campaign as irresponsible.
“I am saddened that there are people who want to fan the flames of argument, and to employ bullying media tactics, as the Women of the Wall have done to our regret in recent days, through an irresponsible campaign whose goal is to prevent an arrangement that is acceptable to all sides,” he said.
Since the ad campaign was launched, the women’s group claims that it has received over 60 calls from Israeli women inquiring about holding a bat mitzva at the Western Wall, as well as numerous harassing calls.
“Women of the Wall remain determined to pray according to their tradition and the rights guaranteed to them by the Jerusalem District Court decision of April 2013, written by Judge Moshe Sobel,” the organization said.Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.