Kotel rabbi urges haredi leaders not to stage protest against Women of Wall

Earlier this week, the United Torah Judaism party decided not to arrange any demonstrations against Women of the 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)
Shmuel Rabinowitz, the chief rabbi of the Western Wall, issued a letter on Thursday saying he had called on the ultra-Orthodox leadership not to organize protests at the site for Friday’s scheduled Rosh Hodesh prayer service by the Women of the Wall.
The Jerusalem Post understands, however, that a decision was already made earlier this week within the United Torah Judaism party not to arrange any demonstrations.
For the last two WoW prayer services at the site to mark the start of a new month, UTJ has been involved in providing transportation for thousands of haredi school girls who have filled the women’s section entirely, preventing the WoW prayer group from holding their service there.
WoW was forced on both occasions to pray well away from the actual women’s section.
“Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinowitz appealed to the rabbis and haredi leadership not to hold a mass demonstration in light of the heightened security sensitivities on the Temple Mount, and especially in light of the recommendations of the committee of the Prime Minister’s Office, which is expected to give its opinion in the coming days,” Rabinowitz’s office said in a statement to the press on Thursday.
The rabbi was referring to several recent incidents involving attacks against Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount and subsequent police activities there.
A small committee headed by cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit has been reviewing options for non-Orthodox prayer at the Western Wall but is yet to publish its recommendations.
In the statement, Rabinowitz described WoW’s prayer service as a “provocation” and said that the group was continuing with its actions “despite the solution provided by [Religious Services] Minister Naftali Bennett at Robinson’s Arch,” and thus was continuing with the “voices of argument at the Western Wall.”
In August, a large platform designated for non-Orthodox prayer service was constructed at the southern end of the Kotel, away from the main plaza, in an area known as Robinson’s Arch.
While Reform and Conservative groups cautiously welcomed the development, WoW’s members said they would not pray there and would continue to hold their services at the main Western Wall plaza.
Police asked WoW to come without tefillin.