Pashkevilim, or wall notices, have been posted around haredi neighborhoods in
Jerusalem calling on men and women to demonstrate against the Women of the Wall
activist group on Tuesday when the organization will be holding its regular
prayer service for the new month.
“Save the Western Wall from being
trampled and desecrated at the hands of a group of women called ‘Women of the
Wall’ who want to desecrate the Wall on Tuesday, the new month of Nissan at 7:00
in the morning,” the pashkevil reads.
“Male and female worshipers, please
come to the prayer service for the new month on this day to protest against the
desecration of the holy...anyone for whom this place is important should
come to protest and to call out.”
The Women of the Wall organization,
which seeks to obtain the right to hold pluralistic Jewish prayer services for
women at the Western Wall, sent photographs of the notices from various
locations in the city to the press on Sunday.
The group holds prayer
services at the Western Wall celebrating the beginning of every new
Women of the Wall chairwoman Anat Hoffman filed a request with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and
Israel Police Ch.-Insp. Yohanan Danino over the notices, asking for their
provenance to be investigated. In the request, Hoffman alleges that the notices
constitute incitement to violence and could lead to ultra-Orthodox extremists
attacking the group.
“Notices of this kind, which have been published in
the past have led haredi extremists to act with severe violence and even attempt
murder,” Hoffman wrote.
She said that the police needed to act decisively
in order to prevent disturbances or violence at their Tuesday prayer
In a statement to the media, the Women of the Wall said they
were calling on the Israeli public to “join the struggle to free the Western
Wall from the hands of the haredim.”
Hoffman said that the site could be
a place where “every Jew, male and female, from all Jewish denominations can
feel at home and not in a haredi synagogue.”
The Regulations for the
Protection of Holy Places to the Jews of 1981 forbid performing religious
ceremonies “not according to local custom” or which “may hurt the feelings of
the worshipers” at the site.
In 2003, the Supreme Court upheld the right
of the Women of the Wall to pray at the Western Wall according to their custom,
but in the same decision ruled that this right was “not an unlimited right” and
that the rights of others who might be offended by different customs should also
be protected, as well as emphasizing the importance of maintaining order and
preventing violence at the site.
The police have interpreted the law in
recent years as allowing women to wear colorful tallitot, or prayer shawls,
around their shoulders, which police refer to as “female-style tallitot,” while
prohibiting the use by women of larger “male-style tallitot,” which are blue and
white or black and white, and worn folded across the shoulders. In recent
months, women wearing such tallitot have been detained by the police.
regulations also prohibit the performance of other practices and ceremonies
usually conducted by men, including wearing tefillin, reading aloud from the
Torah and other Jewish observances.