Western Wall orderlies ‘in contempt of High Court’ over women's body searches

According to WOW, some 50 women and 20 men went to the Western Wall this morning to pray but were instructed to open their coats upon arrival at the security check.

January 19, 2017 16:16
1 minute read.
women of the wall

Women of the Wall pray outside of the Western Wall complex. (photo credit: COURTESY WOMEN OF THE WALL)

Orderlies at the Western Wall demanded to conduct body searches on women worshipers Thursday in direct contravention of an order by the High Court of Justice last week.

According to Women of the Wall, some 50 women and 20 men went to the Kotel to pray but upon arrival were instructed to open their coats by Western Wall Heritage Foundation security guards.

Since the women refused to be subjected to such searches security prevented them from entering.

Such inspections have become routine since WoW and other groups have sought to bring in their own Torah scrolls for their prayer services.

WoW has taken this step due to them being banned from using Torah scrolls belonging to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which are made available to men.

Western Wall Administrator Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz also instituted a regulation banning anyone from bringing in an external Torah scroll, a regulation that splinter group Original Women of the Wall said in a High Court petition is unauthorized and illegal.

It was in the context of this petition that the High Court ruled last week that the Western Wall Heritage Foundation’s security guards cannot conduct body searches on women.

Women of the Wall, accompanied by a delegation of Reform Judaism’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, ended up conducting their prayer service outside the Western Wall complex.

“Judaism has many faces.

Today, in mid-January, the Jewish thing to do was protest by not opening our coats, and refusing the humiliation of a body search,” WoW said. “This fact – that Jewish women who wanted to pray with a Torah scroll at the Western Wall were aggressively stopped by a rabbi on the public payroll – should outrage the entire world.”

Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai called on Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein to hold an emergency hearing on the issue, calling the actions of Rabinowitz and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation “in total violation of the decision of the High Court on January 11.”

“It seems that the rabbi [Rabinowitz] is above the law and therefore allows himself act in contempt of High Court decisions,” said Shai.

Rabinowitz declined a request for comment.

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