Women of the Wall conduct Rosh Chodesh prayers with MK Kariv

WOW attempted to read the Torah reading for Rosh Chodesh amid protests against them.

 Women of the Wall read the Torah on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, 2021 (photo credit: WOMEN OF THE WALL)
Women of the Wall read the Torah on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, 2021
(photo credit: WOMEN OF THE WALL)

Labor MK and Reform rabbi Gilad Kariv joined the Women of the Wall for prayers and the Torah reading for Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan at the Western Wall amid disturbances on Thursday. Blue and White MK Alon Tal also took part in the prayers.

Kariv brought a Torah scroll to the plaza for the women to read from. As they attempted to read from the scroll, they were removed from the women's section of the plaza and finished reading the portion at the entrance to the women's section as they were pushed and yelled at.

Video from the plaza showed a security guard asking the women to "please stop" and stressing that the Torah scroll could not enter the women's section. "Let's prevent the provocation and mess. Stop," added the guard.

Protesters could be heard yelling and whistling in the background as the security guards confronted the women.

Women of the Wall attempt to read the Torah on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, October 7, 2021. (Credit: Women of the Wall)

The women stated that many of those confronting them during their prayers were not wearing masks, in opposition to Health Ministry guidelines.

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation stated that it was "saddened" by the disturbances on Thursday morning, saying that Kariv's attempt to bring a Torah scroll into the women's section was in opposition to explicit instructions from the Justice Ministry.

They stressed that a representative of the foundation approached Kariv and asked him not to use his immunity to take this step and that the MK had responded that while he respects the activities of the foundation, "he plans to act as he sees fit."

The foundation added that it made a special path for the Women of the Wall group "in an attempt to avoid friction by separating the groups."

"The foundation is deeply pained by these events and calls upon all parties to set aside disputes and give the proper respect to this holy site," it said.

"Once again, the rabbi of the Western Wall has shown that he is violent toward anyone who does not obey the separatist and extremist ultra-Orthodox laws that he is trying to impose on the Western Wall," according to Yochi Rappaport, director-general of Women of the Wall. "We call for the immediate implementation of the Western Wall layout – and until then we will continue to arrive at the Western Wall and pray there as usual."

Kariv stated in response to the incident that the "conduct of the Western Wall rabbi and his men towards the women of the Western Wall is tainted by a serious violation of the provisions of the law and the ruling of the Jerusalem District Court."

The MK stressed that he and other MKs would "defend the right of the women of the Western Wall to pray as usual and to read the Torah in the women's section, until the full implementation of the outline of the Western Wall."

United Torah Judaism MK Meir Porush attacked Kariv for joining the women, saying "The fact that Gilad Kariv exploits his immunity and persuades other people to violate the order of the Western Wall, disgrace and trample on the sanctity of the place, is crossing a redline and is intolerable. It's a disgrace that needs to end."

In protest against Kariv's participation in the prayers at the Western Wall, Porush sat down on the floor of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and began reciting Psalms in order to disrupt the committee meeting while Kariv was speaking.

UTJ MK Meir Porush recites Psalms in protest during Knesset committee meeting, October 7, 2021 (Credit: Knesset Channel)

After allowing Porush to recite Psalms for a few minutes, Kariv continued the meeting while Porush continued reciting Psalms before eventually calling a ten-minute break to give Knesset ushers an opportunity to remove the UTJ MK from the room.

Kariv quoted a discussion in the Talmud concerning the sanctification and desecration of God's name in public, stressing that the Talmud states that sanctification comes by acting in a way that will cause the public to value tradition and faith. "I think we are receiving here a good class on what the desecration of God's name is and what the sanctification of God's name is," said Kariv.

Porush eventually left the room, saying "I will continue this protest until you get away from the Western Wall. You will not come to the women's section and I will not come here."

"The right to protest of Knesset members is important," said Kariv in response. "I was at the Western Wall this morning and I am glad that other Knesset members are exercising their right to protest. The walls of the committee did not fall – and at least you merited us with a few Psalms."