Ahead of Monthly Prayer |

Western Wall Rabbi Asks That Women of the Wall Not Be Bothered

In unusual move, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch urges ultra-Orthodox not to disturb the peace at the Western Wall, as Israel Police deal with mounting tension on the nearby Temple Mount.

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

In an unusual overture, the rabbi of the Western Wall on Thursday urged ultra-Orthodox worshippers to refrain from confrontations on Friday morning with Women of the Wall, when the pluralistic prayer group holds its Rosh Chodesh service at the holy site.

Calling such confrontation “the greatest desecration of the name of God,” Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch said in a statement sent to ultra-Orthodox leaders that “the Kotel is not only the heart of the Jewish people but the face of the Jewish people to itself and to the outside world.”

He said it was important to maintain the calm at the Kotel especially now, as police are preoccupied with rising tensions at the nearby Temple Mount. Rabinovich also mentioned that the cabinet is set to approve any day now recommendations drawn up by a government committee for new rules governing prayer at the Western Wall.

“I have no doubt that none of the parties will be completely satisfied with the committee’s recommendations,” he said, “but the situation requires it, the place requires it, and the people of Israel require that the Western Wall plaza once again becomes a place of unification for all of us, and not, God forbid, a place that expresses controversy and internal hatred.”

Women of the Wall will be holding its first Rosh Chodesh service at the Kotel since Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett constructed a new platform on the other side of the Mughrabi Bridge that is meant to accommodate egalitarian prayer services. Bennett had hoped that the women’s prayer group would use the new platform as well for its monthly services, but its leaders have said they have no intention of doing so and will hold their prayer service this month, as they have in the past, at the women’s section of the wall.

The women’s prayer group said it expected about 100 participants at its service Friday morning – much fewer than the usual number present in recent months. In contrast to its practice in recent months, Women of the Wall will not be organizing transportation for the participants this time.

After the Jerusalem District Court ruled several months ago that it is not a violation of 'local custom' for women to engage in such practices, police stopped detaining members of Women of the Wall.Credit: AFP

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