November 4, 2013
Women of the Wall gathered today with nearly 1000 participants, including students and supporters from all over Israel and including 150 supporters who flew in from abroad for the occasion. The women’s prayer group took up more than half of the women’s section. Women of the Wall supporters extended into the upper plaza of the Western Wall. The prayer was peaceful for the most part with very minimal protest from the Ultra-Orthodox, despite the major efforts to bring protesters. Police protected the women from minor disturbances, yelling, whistles and cursing.
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the government appointed administrator of the Western Wall and holy spaces, permitted the usage of loudspeakers which have been used for the past three months to drown out the women’s prayer. Also in accordance with an ordinance by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz women are barred from reading and accessing a Torah Scroll at the Kotel, a regulation which discriminates against women in the public space. In order to symbolize the absence of this important aspect of our prayer, women and girls held up the empty Torah scroll mantles during the Torah service. The women also recited a blessing together under canopies of prayer shawls, symbolizing the special gathering of this sisterhood in shared space, at the Kotel.
The peaceful prayer ended with the singing of ‘Hatikvah’, Israel’s national anthem. This represents the group’s commitment to women’s equality in prayer at the Western Wall as a holy public space in Israel.
Dr. Ella Kanner, Women of the Wall Board Member, said “Today’s prayer at the Kotel was the most uplifting and emotional yet. Today was just the prologue for the future of our group’s prayers”
For twenty-five years Women of the Wall has struggled for religious freedom and women’s rights at the Western Wall. As Women of the Wall, our central mission is to achieve the social and legal recognition of our right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall.
Shira Pruce Director of Public Relations +972(0)546898351 [email protected]