October 4, 2013
Nearly 200 Women of the Wall prayed this morning in the women’s section of the Kotel- out loud and as a group, with tallitot (prayer shawls) and tefillin (phylacteries). The multi-denominational prayer group prayed without police enclosures and restrictions, for the first time since April 2013. This great achievement was tainted by the incited, abusive behavior of some of the women and girls who came to pray at the Kotel this morning. Of thousands who came to pray for the health of Rabbi Ovadia Yoseph, there was a large group of women and girls who surrounded Women of the Wall, cursing, spitting and yelling throughout the prayer. A mass prayer was led by Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yoseph, over loud-speakers, drowning out women’s prayers.
Despite the provocations of the girls and the loudspeakers, out of great respect Women of the Wall stopped their prayer to listen and join Rabbi Yoseph’s prayer for his father. The women added “amen” and continued the prayer only when his was finished.
It was a trying and emotional morning for the women, many of whom left the Kotel in tears, saddened but also resolved to continue to pray at the holy site.
Women of the Wall has been struggling for 25 years for women’s right to pray freely and with dignity at the Western Wall. Today, with the exception of the ban of Torah from the women’s section, this goal was achieved and we are one step closer to full freedom for women at the Kotel.
For twenty-five years Women of the Wall has continued to fight 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.
Director of Public Relations