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
This time the haredi women will not be alone, as schoolgirls from
the national- religious Bnei Akiva movement will also participate in the
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
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
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
They added, however, that “it is not the role of
schoolgirls to take an activist part in this debate.”