WoW to read from Torah at Kotel for first time
ByJeremy Sharon
05 June 2013 18:53
Group meets again with MKs Naftali Bennett and Eli Ben Dahan to calm tensions.
A Women of the Wall member dons tefillin and a tallit.

Women of the wall tefillin 370. (photo credit:REUTERS)

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 Western Wall.

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 service.



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Following a meeting last month with Bennett and Ben-Dahan, WoW agreed not to read from the Torah as a compromise to help lower tensions.

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.

Thousands of 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.

The 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 worshipers.

“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 synagogue.”

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 own customs.

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 corpses.”

“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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