Press Release 19 Nov. 2017 Despite Court Order, Women of the Wall Prayer Conducted Under Harassment and Disturbances

80 Women of the Wall conducted Rosh Hodesh Kislev prayer, under incitement and harassment. WOW worshipers were attacked verbally, vocally and physically. A young face-covered girl, spilled coffee on WOW worshippers as men yelled from the main Plaza: “Go make your own Kotel in Tel-Aviv.You’re worse than Isis.”

From the beginning of the prayer, young girls and women, faces covered, whistled and shouted to silence WOW voices, spitting and cursing. Men from the upper plaza chanted, jeered and yelled vulgarities to drown the singing from WOW prayer.

One of the WOW worshipers who were physically assaulted, made an official complaint to police at the Kotel station.

At the end of the prayer, Women of the Wall walked onto the main plaza where they exposed a sign stating: “Ferrari marketing, Yes. Women’s prayer, No?” Accompanied by Young Judaea and Aardvark gap year students, as well as International MA students from the Hebrew University, Women of the Wall sang and danced in a circle, while being yelled and harassed by ultra-Orthodox men and women. The signage was in response to a marketing stunt by Ferrari, fully authorized by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch’s staff. 20 Ferrari supercars were allowed onto the Kotel plaza, and marketing agents were walking around the plaza with Ferrari and Israeli flags.

WOW Chairperson, Anat Hoffman: “Two weeks ago Rabbi Shmuel “Ferrari” Rabinovitch allowed the Kotel area to become a marketing venue for the Italian super-cars. He allowed 20 cars to park at the Kotel and have marketing agents to walk around with little flags, enticing the public to buy their product. This is an extreme example of his hypocrisy and misguided policy. On the one hand, he forbids women’s prayer and Torah reading at the Wall, because it’s “against local custom and the tradition of millenniums. On the other, he allows the Ferrari people to take over the plaza. Is Ferrari local custom or tradition? The conclusion is one: Rabbi Shmuel “Ferrari” Rabinovitch has to go.”

WOW Executive Director, Lesley Sachs: “The 25 of November is the International Day for Fighting Violence against Women. WOW experience this violence every single month. 80 or more women praying on the one hand, and ultra-Orhodox are screaming, jeering and shoving while the police stand idly by.”

Riki Shapira-Rosenberg: “Despite last week’s Supreme Court order, disturbances continue at Women of the Wall’s Rosh Hodesh Kislev prayer. A group of teens yelled and screamed incessantly, disrupting the prayer. Security guards and police ignored the disturbances and did not remove the disturbing elements. During prayer, two of the WOW worshipers were assaulted and threatened. Following these assaults, official police complaints were made.”

About Women of the Wall:

WOW is a group of religious women from all denominations (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform) who pray at the Western Wall every “Rosh Hodesh” (beginning of the month) and have been fighting for 28 years for equal rights for women in praying at the Western Wall. The group wishes to pray according to Jewish Law (Halacha), in a group and out loud; to read from a Torah scroll; and to put on tefillin and tallit, at the section known as the Women’s Section of the Western Wall.

Following a 3-year-negotiation, the Kotel Agreement was approved in government on January 31, 2016, by a 15 to 5 majority. The agreement stated that a third section be established, designated for Women of the Wall and pluralistic movements’ prayers. The agreement was voided by a cabinet vote on June 25th, 2017. The Supreme Court will be hearing the case in an expanded panel.

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