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

A special Rosh Hodesh prayer service organized by the Women of the Wall marking the beginning of the Hebrew month of Iyyar drew less than 20 people at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Monday morning, despite hopes by the Reform movement in Israel that hundreds would take part in the service.

Thousands of worshippers gathered at the Western Wall for traditional Rosh Hodesh prayers Monday morning, while the event organized by the Women of the Wall movement, which offered free transportation to the Western Wall, drew less than 20 people.

The Women of the Wall movement has drawn criticism from local worshippers, religious authorities charged with maintaining the Western Wall Plaza, and even Israeli police for ignoring court orders to hold their non-traditional prayer services in a specially designated space at the Wall.

Opponents of the group say the poor turnout at Monday’s event was likely the result of disappointment over last month’s event, when the group hoped to bring out 1,000 supporters, but instead drew only dozens.

“The failure of that prayer event could have led the Reform women to give up and decide not to attend this month’s provocation,” the Matteh Hameshutaf LeShmirat Kedushat HaKotel [The Joint Forum for Preserving the Sanctity of the Western Wall] said.

The group added that turnout at the Women of the Wall event was so low that barriers put up every month to separate the traditional prayer services in the Women’s section at the Wall from the non-traditional services were not needed, freeing up more space at the Women’s section.