The Women of the Wall, a group of Jewish women who have pushed for greater access for women to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, were thwarted in their plans this Passover weekend to offer a blessing traditionally conducted by men at the holy site. The women had planned to hold the first-ever “women’s priestly blessing” at the wall but were told by Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandebilt on Thursday that they were prohibited from doing so because it did not conform to local custom. The decision was the latest in an ongoing struggle between the women’s group and the ultra-Orthodox, conservative group that has traditionally run the prayer site. The male rabbi who oversees the Wall called the women’s desire to offer the blessing a “provocation.”
Fifty women gathered near the wall Sunday to pray anyway, though they did not go through with the blessing. The women were kept in a cordoned off area away from the wall during their prayers, and were watched and harassed by men nearby, according to Agence France-Presse. The women remained hopeful that eventually, they may win greater access and rights at the site.
“In the future, I hope to see that happen one day, hopefully next year,” Shaina Lidd, a 21-year-old American teaching English in Israel told AFP. “But I’m still happy that we got to be together and pray.”
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