Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Jewish women blocked at Western Wall

09 July 2013, 07:56

Jerusalem - Several thousand ultra-Orthodox protesters effectively blocked Jewish women activists campaigning for equal worship rights at the Western Wall from holding a monthly prayer session on Monday at the holy site.

Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said members and supporters of the Women of the Wall group were escorted by police to a spot a short distance from the Western Wall "to make sure there would be no incidents".

A spokesperson for the movement, which is challenging the Orthodox monopoly over rites at the Western Wall, called the incident a setback after a court decided in April the women could legally don prayer shawls that Orthodox ritual says are meant for men only.

Prayer rites at the site, revered by Jews as a perimeter wall of the Biblical Temple, are part of a long struggle between Israel's secular majority and ultra-Orthodox minority over lifestyle in the Jewish state, where institutions such as marriage, divorce and burial are controlled by rabbis.

Women pray at a separate section, set apart from men. Women of the Wall want to be able to practice the rituals reserved by Orthodox law for men - such as wearing prayer shawls and reading out loud from the Torah, or holy scriptures - in their section.

"It's the first time in 25 years we could not reach the plaza," of the wall, Shira Pruce, a group spokesperson said. "They [police] held up back. It's our right to go there."

Tensions running high

The 300 activists instead prayed about 50m from the Western Wall. Some of the ultra-Orthodox protesters, who included women, threw eggs at the group, and cursed them and police. Rosenfeld said four of the ultra-Orthodox demonstrators were arrested.

Tensions were running high at the Western Wall, a day after the Israeli cabinet approved a draft law to abolish wholesale military draft exemptions for Jewish seminary students.

"We hope soldiers will die," one ultra-Orthodox youth shouted at a member of the paramilitary border police trying to block him from entering the Western Wall plaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked former cabinet minister and Jewish leader Natan Sharansky to seek a compromise to permit the Women of the Wall to hold prayers without exacerbating tensions with the ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Sharansky has proposed a formula to widen a separate zone at the Western Wall once designated for egalitarian prayer, a suggestion neither side nor the government has yet embraced.

Also spurring Israel's drive to resolve the dispute is the support for the Women of the Wall movement in the United States in the influential Conservative and Reform movements of Judaism, which do not adhere to the Orthodox practice of gender separation in prayer.

Shmuel Rabinowitz, an Orthodox rabbi officially in charge of the Western Wall, told Reuters he objected to the activists trying to "impose their own customs" at the Western Wall, but voiced support for government efforts to seek a compromise.

"The Western Wall should be a unifying site. Everyone needs to give in a little," he said.

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...