Haredim heckle, harass Women of Wall during prayer

Protesters throw garbage, spit at, insult female worshipers.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
May 10, 2013 10:21
3 minute read.
Women of the wall

Women of the wall protest. (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)

 
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Protests at the Western Wall in Jerusalem opposing the Women of the Wall prayer group ended on Friday morning with the arrest of three haredi men suspected of disturbing the peace. Two police officers who suffered light injuries during the unrest were treated at the scene. A large number of security forces at the holy site attempted to create a human barrier between the men and women's sections.

Haredi protesters threw water bottles and other objects and shouted insults at the Women of the Wall activists, according to Israel Radio. 

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Rabbi Susan Silverman, comedian Sarah Silverman's sister who prays with the Women of the Wall, was at the protest where she said that haredi men spit globs of spit on her three daughters, she told The Jerusalem Post. Silverman also said that the haredim threw coffee at the Women of the Wall activists and that a little girl next to her was hit in the head with something hard.

Silverman told the Post that the haredi protesters represent "a fundamentalism and a belief in a single and very narrow view of God that I believe is idolatrous."

Women of the Wall Spokesperson, Oshrat Ben Shimshon told Israel Radio, "Orthodox rabbis have determined that there is no halachik barrier to women praying with prayer shawls and tefillin and reading from the Torah."



Meanwhile, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky said that a sustainable solution is urgent and this morning's clashes at the Western Wall dramatically reinforce Israel's need to allow any Jew, group of Jews or Jewish community to pray at the Western Wall according to their own customs.

Sharansky praised police for the appropriate and level-headed action they have taken under extremely complicated circumstances, dealing with clashes and riots, and ensuring respect was given to those engaged in prayer.

Several thousand yeshiva students and haredi school girls convened at the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem to protest the monthly prayer service of the Women of the Wall.

The protesters shouted at the Women of the Wall activists as they were conducting their first monthly service without restrictions after a court ruling two weeks ago reinterpreted existing laws and allowed them to be able to perform their own customs, such as wearing prayer shawls and tefillin, without fear of being arrested.

The idea to send haredi school girls to protest the Women of the Wall was devised by MKs from the United Torah Judaism party earlier this week in consultation with principals of haredi girls schools, on condition the initiative received approval from the leading haredi rabbis.

According to a report on haredi website Kikar Hashabbat, spiritual leader of the haredi world Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman gave his blessing to the proposal on Thursday.

Many participants in the Women of the Wall services don prayer shawls and perform other customs usually performed by men in Orthodox practice, that has until now been prohibited by state law, and as of late, women have been arrested on a frequent basis for wearing prayer shawls during the WoW services.

A court ruling two weeks ago reinterpreted existing laws and the Women of the Wall will on Friday be able to perform their own customs.

At a hearing of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women earlier this week, a representative of the Jerusalem Police confirmed that the police would not act against the recent Jerusalem District Court ruling which decided that WoW’s customs did not contravene “local custom,” that has been the basis for outlawing the group’s non- Orthodox customs.

United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler expressed outrage during the committee hearing at what he referred to as the Women of the Wall’s “provocations.” He asked if the police would allow the right of protest and demonstration against the group’s prayer service.

The Women of the Wall issued a statement on Thursday celebrating their new found freedoms.

“We have the great merit that Israeli women will arrive in their masses tomorrow for the prayer service for the New Month of Sivan. We call on the public which supports us, women and men, to come and pray with us, to liberate the Western Wall and to turn it into to the home of everyone,” the group said.

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