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The Tables Turn at the Western Wall

A Rosh Hodesh marked by arrests and protests

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As we noted in Daybreak (and Sundown yesterday), this month’s Rosh Hodesh service at the Western Wall was slated to be something of a turning point in the struggle between the religious groups that worship there. And a turning point it was. Given cover by a recent Jerusalem district court ruling, the female worshipers–led by the Women of the Wall–were protected by Israeli police, a change from previous months when the group’s Rosh Hodesh services had been marked by arrests and detainments.

Instead, it was a few ultra-Orthodox men (among the thousands protesting) who were arrested as rocks and chairs were hurled at the women and whistles were blown in an attempt to drown out the prayer. The women worshipers, previously the insurgents, were able to complete their service before being escorted away from the Western Wall and out of the Old City by police.

It’s difficult to tell what will come next; despite the court ruling, earlier this week, the Israeli attorney general seemed to say that the court ruling would not constitute a permanent answer to the issue, which has polarized the Israeli public in recent months. Judging by today’s violence, it’s remains unlikely that the status quo will persist.

In the meantime, a press release from the Women of the Wall thanked the police (at least two were injured) for their efforts and added this:

The most moving part of the service was the blessings and celebration of a young Bat mitzvah girl. After reciting the traditional blessings, she sat on the shoulders of a woman while celebrating and dancing, as is traditional for the coming of age ceremony. Hoffman relates, “We are proud to be the women whose shoulders on which this young girl can stand, to celebrate her bat mitzvah at the Kotel and to pray here safely for years to come.”

For a somewhat surreal look at the events today, this video captures some of the two-hour event.

Earlier: ‘Women of the Wall’ Ruling in Limbo
Ultra-Orthodox teens clash with Women of the Wall at holy site [ToI]

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The Kotel is not a holy place and never was, it was a secular place of mourning. All this making it into a place of worship is idolatry. If they want to rumble over a holy place, they should saunter on over to Har haBayt, it’s pretty close.

Finally, a sane response to those who want to force their totalitarian form of religious beliefs down everyone’s throats. Each individual has the right to practice religion (or not) as (s)he sees fit and no one is harmed by doing so.

Great Stone Face says:

This statement from a person at the service will tell you who are the true Israelis: “…as the crowd dispersed, the women sang Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem. As if on cue, the handful of protesters who remained booed at the top of their lungs.” The Haredim’s first loyalty is to the ultra-Orthodox rebbes who are interested only in maintaining their power, government subsidies, and control.

DevilInPgh says:

Give me a call when WoW starts to take on prayer (that is, ANY non-Islamic prayer) on the Temple Mount as an issue. Until then, I can give a rat’s derriere about their Smolanit cause.

    oaklandj says:

    WoW are Jews, not evangelical Christians trying to precipitate armageddon.

AriShavit says:

Throwing chairs and rocks?! Such a disgrace …

Bei Gezunt says:

The ultra-orthodox who attack women and children are disgusting cowards with no understanding of G-d, Judaism or anything sacred. These are not men.

Rebecca Klempner says:

This article (and almost all media accounts) says nothing about the significantly larger number of women who showed up that day (last Friday) who were not part of the Women of the Wall but part of the opposing camp. Those women wanted to pray without being disturbed by other women who have no respect for their beliefs and customs. There were Chareidi, mainstream, and National Religious women there, and it was with feminine initiative they decided to come that day to support their ability to pray without being essentially forced into a synagogue that they would never walk into (a Reform or Conservative synagogue where women lead prayer, where tallis and tefillin, etc.).

If the Women of the Wall really wanted to pray at the Wall, and really wanted to be inclusive of all Jews, they would have accepted the generous and fair plan devised by Sharansky. That plan, if anything, did a better job of accommodating people’s varied “prayer preferences” without disturbing those with contrasting minchagim. We need a plan to promote unity. Arresting women at the Kotel doesn’t do that, but neither does disturbing the Orthodox women who regularly pray there.

Shame on men (“ultra-Orthodox” or not) who act in a way that is aggressive and undignified. They even attacked women who were there to pray in Orthodox fashion even when told major Chareidi rabbis had said to leave the Women of the Wall alone. Such men aren’t defending Judaism of any stripe.
But shame also on the Women of the Wall for sowing seeds of discord for their own agenda, particularly at a time of year when we’re supposed to build up Jewish unity.

    BJS says:

    Agree. Well said!

    dantheman08822 says:

    It the blacks really wanted an education, they’d go to Grambling College and other all-black “separate but equal” schools, and not bother white folks at Ole Miss who are simply adhering to tradition.

    dantheman08822 says:

    It the blacks really wanted an education, they’d go to Grambling College and other all-black “separate but equal” schools, and not bother white folks at Ole Miss who are simply adhering to tradition.

hashimoto says:

As a secular Jew…..I’ve never liked the ultra -orthodox…They remind me of the Taliban with brains!!!

The problem here is not women’s rights. The real problem is reformed Judaism. In America it is responsible for assimilation, intermarriage and syncretism. In Israel it is now causing division and desecration of holy sites ( I presume the kotel is the first of many things that they will wreck). Reformed Judaism more closely represents Christianity than Judaism. Probably because it is rife with intermarriage with Christians and converts who don’t go through proper and thorough conversions. Gay rabbis? Really? It’s time for Reformed Judaism to do what Christianity eventually did: make a final break with Judaism and recognise that they are a separate religion altogether.


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The Tables Turn at the Western Wall

A Rosh Hodesh marked by arrests and protests

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