'Women of the Wall' forced out of Kotel amid protests

Event at Western Wall marking controversial feminist group's 30th anniversary ended as activists forced to leave plaza amid protests.

David Rosenberg ,

Women of the Wall at Western Wall Friday March 8th 2019
Women of the Wall at Western Wall Friday March 8th 2019
Hadas Parush/Flash90

An event at the Western Wall marking the 30th anniversary of a controversial feminist group was cut short Friday morning after the group’s prayer gathering drew protests from a large group of Orthodox worshippers at the holy site.

The Women of the Wall (WOW) movement, a small group of women who hold non-traditional prayer services in the Western Wall plaza each month, gathered by the Western Wall Friday morning for their monthly Rosh Hodesh (marking the new Hebrew month) prayers, as well as to mark the 30th anniversary of the movement.

The small WOW gathering was dwarfed by the gathering of some 20,000 worshippers for the traditional prayer services at the wall.

Dozens of Orthodox worshippers protested the Women of the Wall service, arguing that the non-traditional prayer service held in the center of the plaza was a clear provocation.

Critics of the Women of the Wall have noted in the past that the Women of the Wall’s services in the main Western Wall plaza are illegal, and violate the rules established by the state authority in charge of the holy space.

While a separate space on the southern end of the Western Wall has been designated for non-traditional prayers, the Women of the Wall has demanded use of the main plaza area, holding illegal services there every month.

Police intervened on Friday, separating the protesters from the Women of the Wall activists.

During the protests, the Women of the Wall activists left the Western Wall plaza.

According to a statement put out by the Women of the Wall, the activists were removed from the plaza by police.

“Thousands of ultra-Orthodox youth violently disrupt @Womenofthewall 30th anniversary prayer service,” the group tweeted.

“Many thousands of haredim surrounded us, cursed us, yelled at us, pushed and hit,” the group claimed. “Because of the failure of the Israel Police to maintain the women’s security, two women were evacuated for medical treatment because of the attacks. In the middle of the prayer service, and because of the intense violence, the Women of the Wall were removed from the plaza, under heavy guard. Some of them fell, were bruised and injured.”

The chief rabbi of the Western Wall plaza, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, condemned the Women of the Wall for using the holy site for “provocations”.

“The Western Wall Plaza is not a space for protests, and we ask that [they] refrain from provocations and leave the Western Wall as a place of unity, not of division.”




top