311_Amar and Metzger at Joseph's Tomb.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Chief rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger received letters on Monday threatening
violence if the Women of the Wall activist group is not allowed to pray
according to its practices at the Western Wall in its upcoming prayer
“This is your last warning,” the title of the letter
“If the Women of the Wall are not allowed to pray according to
our own way and our customs, we will fight you with all means and you will
return home with 100 haredi corpses,” the note continued.
“Your end is
close. Religious people stink, are disgusting and are parasites. We won’t hold
back any longer, we are liberating the Western Wall again,” it
The letter, mailed from Tel Aviv on May 28, bore a picture of
a pistol. The office of the Chief Rabbinate alerted the security services to the
letter, saying that this was the first time that chief rabbis in Israel had ever
had their lives threatened in such a way.
“Unfortunately, in Israel we
have already learned that words can kill,” the Chief Rabbinate said in a
statement to the press. “This incident deals not only with a threat to the
rabbis but against an entire community,” the statement added.
In a press
release, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz said that in the past week he,
too, had received a threatening letter on the issue of the Women of the Wall,
demanding that he allow the group to pray as it wishes.
thousands of haredi men and school girls went to the Western Wall to protest the
Women of the Wall’s prayer service, a demonstration that turned violent when
some of the protesters threw various objects at the female
WoW’s campaign for equal prayer rights at the Western Wall
has now been taken up by Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, who is
currently drawing up plans to create an egalitarian prayer section at the site
to resolve the problem.
Former Shas chairman Eli Yishai blamed the threat
to the chief rabbis on recent statements criticizing haredim by politicians.
Referring indirectly to Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Yishai warned him to change
“The extreme incitement against the haredi public has passed
all limits, and it looks like it is only a matter of time until we see the
results,” Yishai said. “Such a letter would not have been sent were it not for
the fertile ground encouraging incitement against haredim
recently. Public officials should reconsider their words and deeds before
it will be too late for them to apologize.”
The Women of the Wall
organization criticized the letter and wished the chief rabbis “strength and
courage during this trying time,” saying that it was saddened by the violent
“All those involved and educated on the subject know that there
is no connection between the content and style of these letters and the spirit
of nonviolence, tolerance and acceptance which drives Women of the Wall,” the
organization said in a statement to the press.
“Women of the Wall has
instilled trust in the police and believes that they will find the perpetrators
of this crime and other violent threats of their kind of the last few weeks,” it
said. “We remain steadfast partners in condemning these and all violent threats
Ronit Peskin, founder of the Women for the Wall group
defending traditional practices at the Kotel, called on the Women of the Wall’s leadership and the
liberal Jewish organizations backing them to repudiate what she called a
dangerous escalation of conflict over the Western Wall.
“We are extremely
pained by the atmosphere of divisiveness and hate that has developed as a result
of Women of the Wall’s insistence to introduce unilateral changes to the prayer
tradition practiced at the Western Wall,” Peskin said.
“We call on Women
of the Wall to join us in dialogue that can hopefully defuse the situation and
lead to sufficient trust for reaching a mutually acceptable
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett also called for improving
relations with the haredim. He said that would be a priority for his party, as a
bill requiring expanded haredi army service advances.
atmosphere with the haredim via dialogue and cooperation is a top priority for
us,” Bennett said. “We know it won’t work with force. That’s not the way. There
is a pattern of more haredim serving and working. It’s happening naturally and
could be stopped if [the haredim] feel they are under attack.”
of the Wall will hold their next monthly prayer service on June 9, which is Rosh