Women of the Wall read the Torah while praying in the women's section of the Kotel plaza.
(photo credit: ILANIT CHERNICK)
Surrounded by security personnel clad in yellow jackets and ultra-Orthodox women telling them to keep quiet, the Women of the Wall managed to complete Rosh Hodesh prayers in the Women’s section of the Western Wall’s main plaza.
About 180 women, many clad in prayer shawls, kippot and tefillin, stood together close to the separation barrier between men and women singing the morning prayers and Hallel, and reading from the Torah as they celebrated the start of the new month.
Several ultra-Orthodox women surrounded them shouting that what they were doing is “forbidden in Jewish law” and “people are here to pray and you’re disturbing us,” while another shouted, “What are you doing wearing a kippah? This is not your place!”
Two religious women stood in front of the Women of the Wall with signs on their backs. One asked, “Until when? This city is a holy city, this place is a holy place. Have mercy.” The other sign had a similar statement, which addressed the “divine presence at the Kotel” as well as a phrase from the Torah about holiness.
On the men’s side, prayers took place over a loud speaker in a bid to block out the women’s singing, while some men stood behind a barrier that had been erected close to the entrance of the women’s side of the Western Wall.
There were several attempts to throw chairs at the women, but the security guards grabbed the chairs before they could be tossed.
A religious woman told The Jerusalem Post
that she couldn’t understand why they were praying there “when they have their own area by Robinson’s Arch.”
As they took out the Torah, she added: “They’re missing the point of prayer here... They don’t need to be wearing tefillin, kippot and reading from the Torah. Women are already on a higher spiritual level. There is no point to what they are doing here – it’s just causing tension.”
Another religious woman told the Post that they “don’t mind the women praying here, but going next to the mehitza [partition], singing as loud as possible and wearing tallitot [prayer shawls], kippot and tefillin is provocative.”
As the Women of the Wall read from the Torah, several ultra-Orthodox women began to yell at them and shush them, which continued throughout the rest of the service.
Some of the men behind the security barrier also began to say the mourner’s prayer, while some of the youngsters tried to get through the security area.
The women started singing as they left the Western Wall arm in arm, while ultra-Orthodox men heckled them, yelled at them and called them Reform Jews.
“Reform is forbidden!” several shouted in unison.
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