July 8, 2015


Linda Siegel-Richman was bullied at the Western Wall yesterday for wearing a kippah. A security guard and Western Wall Heritage Foundation staff interrogated her and attempted to detain her for wearing a Kippah, in direct violation of the 2013 District Court “Sobel” Decision. Siegel-Richman, a visiting student at the Conservative Yeshiva and a member of Women of the Wall, was subsequently removed from the Kotel. Tonight at 18:00 Women of the Wall Director Lesley Sachs will attend a women’s prayer, wearing her kippah, in solidarity with Linda, in the women’s section of the Kotel.

Women of the Wall are OUTRAGED by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation’s treatment of anyone who is not ultra-Orthodox as a suspect and a criminal. Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, chair of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, and his staff can not refuse women the right to enter the Kotel to pray with a Kippah, Tallit, Tefillin or Torah, as these rights are guaranteed to us by the Israeli courts. Along with Rabinowitz, several Haredi members of Knesset including Minister of Religious Affairs David Azulay (Shas) have begun to exclude, discriminate and incite against Jews who are not ultra-Orthodox, specifically Women of the Wall, whose membership includes women from all Jewish denominations including Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews.

In defense of this latest offense, Rabinowitz expressed regret over the situation but blames Women of the Wall for the shameful behavior of his Western Wall Heritage staff at the Kotel. However, it is clear to all who visit the Kotel that this instance does not represent an exception but the rule under Rabinowitz. This phenomenon of exclusion and discrimination again women at the Kotel, in which female worshippers are harassed, offended and shamed, is the typical brand of Rabinowitz and his dedication to extremist-religious coercion. It is not surprising that Rabinowitz would blame the offensive and illegal behaviors of his staff on Women of the Wall and it would not surprise us if he blamed us for the government’s inability to pass a budget or for the chullent burning on Shabbat.

Women of the Wall invite all supporters to join the campaign to tell Rabinowitz, Azulay and the like: “My tallit, my kippah, my Judaism is not provocative – it’s my PREROGATIVE” Stand with Linda and Women of the Wall. Take a photo or a selfie of yourself with your Kippa/Tallit and tagging Women of the Wall and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Look at our Facebook page for examples and send them in. Organize your friends, family and community to do the same.  Together we will tell Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli Government that they must stand up again discrimination, bullying and the exclusion of women and that all Jews must be welcome at the Kotel.

Press Contact:  Shira Pruce +972 (0)546898351 media@women.org.il

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