Tensions rising over coming Women of the Wall prayer service

WOW is celebrating 30 years since it was founded in December 1988 with its monthly prayer service at the Western Wall which coincides this year with International Women’s Day.

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March 5, 2019 19:09
1 minute read.
WoW April 11 arrests

WoW April 11 arrests 390. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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The scheduled 30-year-anniversary prayer service of the Women of the Wall organization this Friday at the Western Wall looks set to be especially fraught, with large numbers of WOW activists together with national-religious and haredi protestors likely to clash at the site.

Hazon, a hardline national-religious organization, called on members of the public to protest against WOW and its service on Friday morning, while the leading rabbi of the haredi non-hassidic community Rabbi Haim Kanievsky reportedly called on haredi women and school girls to fill the women’s section Friday morning.

WOW is celebrating 30 years since it was founded in December 1988 with its monthly prayer service at the Western Wall which coincides this year with International Women’s Day.

The organization is expecting as many as 1,000 activists to come to the prayer service and is putting on several events in the lead up to the event.

But its national-religious and haredi opponents look set to spoil WOW’s party by flooding the site without thousands of women and girls, as has been done in the past, to fill up the women’s section before WOW’s prayer service participants arrive thereby blocking them from the prayer site.

Hazon published an imaginary front page of Yediot Ahronot for the day after the event, with a headline reading “The Reform conquer the Western Wall,” and with a picture of WOW activists praying with prayer shawls and tefillin at the site.

“This front page must be stopped,” declared Hazon.

The haredi Kol Hai radio station reported on Tuesday that Kanievsky has instructed haredi women and girls to go to the Western Wall on Friday, following efforts by former haredi politician Yitzhak Findruss and haredi Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yossei Deitsch to stymie WOW’s celebrations.

According to Kol Hai, Findruss and Deitsch are requesting that public transportation be increased to deal with the high number of people who will travel to the Western Wall on Friday in light of Kanievsky’s instructions.

WOW said in response that Hazon’s campaign was “deceitful and hateful” and designed to “divide the nation.”

“We will not be dissuaded for a second. Nothing will stop us from exercising our rights to pray in accordance with our customs and the holiest site for Jews,” said the organization.

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