WoW prayers girls 4-11-13 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy Women of the Wall)
Hundreds of women turned out Monday at the Western Wall with the Women of the
Wall’s regular service, marking the start of the new month in the Jewish
calendar and the group’s 25th anniversary.
A call had been issued Sunday
night by a senior haredi rabbi for ultra-Orthodox high school girls to deploy a
past strategy of arriving at the site ahead of the WoW group, in order to fill
up the women’s section. But the numbers turning up on Monday were far below
previous months, and WoW was able to hold its service in the area designated for
A small contingent of school girls from the Bnei Akiva
religious- Zionist movement joined the several hundred ultra- Orthodox girls at
the Western Wall on Monday morning, Army Radio reported, marking the first time
that members of the organization had joined in the ongoing row over women’s
prayers at Judaism’s holiest site.
According to the Women of the Wall’s
Facebook page, at least one thousand people were in
“Twenty-five years of sisterhood prayer and struggle at the
Kotel. We have arrived. With 1,000 people singing Hallel,” said the group on the
The group also added that men and boys were harassing one of the
Women of the Wall’s board members, but there were no arrests or acts of violence
Although the service passed off peacefully, WoW did note once
again that loudspeakers were used in the men’s section to drown out their own
prayer service, although the interruptions ended shortly after prayers
Yizhar Hess, director of the Conservative movement, said that
Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinowitz was complicit in the repeated use of
loudspeakers when WoW holds its services, and called for him to be removed from
“Instead of allowing a dignified and quiet prayer service,
Rabbi Rabinowitz deployed loudspeakers,” said Hess. “He’s not directing the
Western Wall but rather a war of the Jews, and he’s not [acting] with a desire
for reconciliation but is instead provoking conflict and quarrels, [through]
arrogance and haughtiness.”
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Reform
Movement in Israel, was more upbeat about Monday’s service, saying that the fact
it passed off peacefully was a blow to those trying to cause provocations at the
“The peaceful prayer service of the Women of the Wall in
the women’s section [represents] the failure of the efforts of the Rabbi of the
Western Wall and other elements to create provocations at this holy site,” said
“This is proof that it is possible...that all Jewish
communities can pray according to their own customs at the Western
Members of the Kivunim program, a pre-University year program in
Israel that encourages its participants to engage in a wide variety of cultural
and religious events, were in attendance of the prayer service and opted to draw
on the positives from the experience.
Staff counselor, Gabi Wachs from
Philadelphia, called the service a “joyous occasion,” and expressed a feeling of
personal empowerment in seeing a women-led service taking place at the Western
“Today I felt I was in a community of supportive, likeminded women
and men,” she told The Jerusalem Post.
Program participant 18-yearold
Basia Rosenbaum of New York told the Post that the catcalls and verbal outbursts
from the haredi protesters did not ruin the momentous occasion of her second
visit to the Western Wall.
She was particularly impressed with the way
the Women of the Wall participants made sure to include the students and help
them follow along during the service.
Both said that though they had
prepared for an unpleasant experience they did not witness any acts of violence
beyond the occasional shouting and whistling from the protesters.