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Women of the Wall protest at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City. (REUTERS/Michal Fattal)

To God's ears

Women’s service at Jerusalem’s Western Wall disrupted by ultra-Orthodox men

March 8, 2019

A group of roughly 800 Orthodox Jewish women known as the Women of the Wall had their prayer service at the Western Wall in Jerusalem violently disrupted by thousands of ultra-Orthodox protesters on Friday. The service, which was meant to celebrate the group’s 30th anniversary, had to be moved to the egalitarian side section of the holy site after two of Women of the Wall’s members were injured by protesters, according to a spokesperson from the group.

Women of the Wall has long fought with ultra-Orthodox groups over the right of women to lead prayers at the Western Wall. Ahead of Friday’s service, several prominent rabbis had called on their students to disrupt it. Police said that at least one ultra-Orthodox protester had been arrested for attempting to assault a police officer, but declined to say whether the women at the service had been attacked. In a statement, the Women of the Wall accused police of “abandoning” them as protestors pushed, shoved, and cursed at them.

According to Women of the Wall, the Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch also sought to sabotage the service by refusing them the right to use a speaker system for the prayer. Instead, they said, Rabinovitch gave another group in the men’s section the right to use their own speaker system, allowing them to drown out the Women of the Wall’s service.

Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman said her group refused to be intimidated.

“We have been here for 30 years,” said Hoffman. “And so we will continue, every month of the year, for good.”

Read the full story at Haaretz and The Times of Israel.

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