Leading haredi rabbi calls for demo against Women of the Wall

Bnei Akiva schoolgirls to join haredim in rally at Western Wall.

Women of the Wall prayers at Western Wall370 (photo credit: Hadas Parush)
Women of the Wall prayers at Western Wall370
(photo credit: Hadas Parush)
Haredi sources reported Sunday that the leading rabbi of the ultra-Orthodox world, Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, called for haredi women and girls to go to the Western Wall on Monday morning to protest the prayer service of the Women of the Wall prayer rights organization.
Such protests in the past have seen thousands of ultra-Orthodox schoolgirls descending on the site, filling up the women’s section and thus preventing the Women of the Wall from praying there.
This time the haredi women will not be alone, as schoolgirls from the national- religious Bnei Akiva movement will also participate in the protest.
According to the national-religious news site Kipa, Rabbi Beni Nachteiler, the director of Bnei Akiva’s yeshiva education network, spoke to the principals of Bnei Akiva girls’ schools and called on them to participate in the demonstration.
If the Bnei Akiva schoolgirls do participate in the protest, it would mark the first time a segment of the national-religious community has taken part in the activities against the Women of the Wall at the Western Wall.
Ne’emanei Torah Ve’Avodah, a moderate lobbying group within the national-religious movement, wrote to Nachteiler and Rabbi Haim Druckman, the chairman of the Bnei Akiva yeshivot, to object to the participation of the schoolgirls in the protests.
The group said it was not expressing an opinion on the issue of women’s prayer at the Western Wall, but was opposing the use of the girls for activist purposes.
NTA also pointed out that Bnei Akiva itself forbids students and teachers from participating in protests and rallies, political or otherwise, during school hours, and expressly prohibits school principals or teachers from organizing such events.
“As a movement which seeks to foster youth involvement in the issues within Israeli society, we support the discussion and debate on complex issues, like that surrounding the Women of the Wall,” wrote NTA head Shmuel Shetach and chairwoman Tehila Friedman- Nahalon.
They added, however, that “it is not the role of schoolgirls to take an activist part in this debate.”