The Women of the Wall campaign group met with Religious Services Minister
Naftali Bennett and Deputy Minister Eli Ben-Dahan on Wednesday afternoon as part
of efforts to reduce tensions over the combustible issue of prayer rights at the
WoW will hold their monthly prayer service at the women’s
section of the Wall on Sunday, which marks the start of the Jewish month of
Tamuz, and the group has said that it will read from a Torah scroll during the
Following a meeting last month with Bennett and Ben-Dahan, WoW
agreed not to read from the Torah as a compromise to help lower
The group now says that since its prayer service was met with
hostile and at times violent protest from haredi demonstrators it no longer sees
a reason to refrain from reading from the Sefer Torah.
haredi school girls packed into the women’s section of the Western Wall last
month to protest WoW’s service, the first ever in which the group was legally
able to don prayer shawls and tefillin without fear of arrest.
schoolgirls were also joined by a large presence of haredi boys and men who
scuffled with the police.
Various objects were also hurled at the WoW
“There was no lack of aggression or much restraint shown, so
there’s no real reason not to read from the Sefer Torah,” a spokeswoman for WoW
said on Wednesday.
“Women of the Wall won’t back down in the face of
bullying; the people who should be punished for disturbing the peace are the
people who disturb the peace, not the Women of the Wall who are just seeking to
conduct their prayer service.”
On Monday, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel
Rabinowitz publicized a notice from the council of the Chief Rabbinate that said
that “as long as the Chief Rabbinate has not made a decision on this matter, no
changes to that which has been until now [should be made], and conduct at the
Western Wall should be [in accordance with] the holiness of any other
The Chief Rabbinate has no formal power over the site,
however, and a recent ruling of the Jerusalem District Court gave permission to
the Women of the Wall group to conduct their prayers services according to their
Also on Wednesday, United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni
received the same threatening letter, bearing a picture of a pistol, received on
Monday by chief rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger, which demanded that the
Women of the Wall be allowed to pray freely.
The text of the letter was
exactly the same as in the letters sent to chief rabbis.
“This is your
last warning,” the title of the letter declared.
“If the Women of the
Wall are not allowed to pray according to our own way and our customs, we will
fight you with all means and you will return home with 100 haredi
“Your end is close. Religious people stink, are disgusting and
are parasites. We won’t hold back any longer, we are liberating the Western Wall
again,” the note concluded.
Gafni’s office gave the letter to the Knesset
security officer for investigation.
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