On Rosh Hodesh Sivan, Women of the Wall went to the Kotel to pray but the Western Wall Heritage Foundation (WWHF) employees tried to force those women to go into the small barricaded caged area which is located under the Mughrabi Bridge and also very far from the Kotel. Again, the tefila group said that it just want to pray in the women’s section and does not want to be caged.
Thousands of mobilized women were again brought into the Kotel that morning to disrupt and harass WoW’s service, in order to justify the claims of the WWHF guards and the police that there was no room for the tefila group and that the guards could not protect them in the women’s section. Therefore, to be protected the women must go into the barricaded cage.
The guards hovered over the women praying with WoW, demanding their names and hastily wrote them down. Kotel Security head Eden came over with a list of WoW board members and employees that was already prepared. He wasn’t leaving anything to chance. He approached Anat Hoffman, the chair of the WoW board, and told her, “Due to your groups bad behavior today, you and your group will be banned from the Kotel next month,” claiming that we did not fulfill the police’s orders and the recent decision of the High Court of Justice or the Attorney General; both versions are circulating. Women of the Wall is not aware of any new ruling; the last court order, the Sobel decision clearly stated that WoW was allowed to pray in the women’s section.
Eden’s next preposterous assertion was that WoW members pushed and shoved their way into the crowded section. This was a complete fiction. In fact, the group was pushed and shoved by the protesting women and girls who continuously harass and assault WoW every month. They are getting bolder and bolder and more violent every month.
“Haredi women and girls surrounded us and pushed, shoved, and slapped us while yelling profanities and using obscene gestures,” said Elizabeth Kirshner, the director of communications for Women of the Wall. “One of the girls who were disturbing our prayer tried to grab my phone to prevent me from recording what was happening.”
While this was going on, one of the haredi women went to Eden to complain that WoW members (who were davening) pushed her. He met with this woman and the other women and girls to let them spin their tales and then Eden suggested names from his list as to which WoW members are the assaulters. If he mentioned my name, I wasn’t even there.
“While WoW's safety and dignity are regarded as negotiable, even irrelevant concerns, in the eyes of the authorities, our violent opponents' cry for help are met with an urgent and attentive response,” said Kirshner. “The same women who repeatedly push and verbally harass WoW participants receive immediate assistance and support, while we are left as hefker (deserted).”
It appears, according to Hoffman, that the police is going back to its easy tactic of bowing down to the demands of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich that only one type of prayer (haredi) is allowed at the Kotel. He is doing so by distancing WoW from the physical Kotel; first by the means of a cage and now by imposing a ban. He is refusing to call the amuta by its correct name. The rabbi, under the advice of Avi Benayahu (past IDF spokesman), is calling Nashot HaKotel the woman’s group without recognizing the legal name of our amuta or our connection to the wall.
“He [Rabinovich] is not acting like the official guardian of the Kotel for all of Israel; but rather for a small, select group of haredim,” said Hoffman.
I missed this month’s Rosh Hodesh service because I am nursing a knee injury but I will be there next month and hopefully every month going forward. I know that I am on the list even though I wasn’t there because I was the named defendant in the Sobel case. The guards like to harass me every time I am at the Kotel. It won’t work, I will not just go away. WoW will not just go away
Kirshner stressed: “Our battle is for the right to pray freely as women at a national sacred site; meanwhile, we are still working on convincing the authorities that we too are first-class citizens deserving physical protection. This is the most basic of rights in a democratic state that claims to care about its citizens. Meanwhile, the Kotel Heritage Foundation and police continue to ignore - even reward - bad behavior.”
Please join us next month on Rosh Hodesh. We are fighting for Israel’s soul.