Women worshippers attacked by ultra-Orthodox men at Western Wall

Men of the conservative Haredi sect threw garbage, spit at and verbally harassed women at the Jewish holy site

Published May 10, 2013 1:10PM (EDT)

    (Wikimedia Commons)
(Wikimedia Commons)

A group of male Haredi protestors at Jerusalem's Western Wall on Friday morning spit, threw garbage and shouted abuse at the Women of the Wall, a feminist group of female worshippers. In addition to injuries sustained by the praying women, two police officers were treated at the scene. The incident ended with the arrest of three of the ultra-Orthodox men.

The Jewish holy site has been a scene of reoccurring unrest as women defend their right to worship freely. As Salon previously noted, an Israeli court ruled last month that there was no halachik (legal interpretation of the Talmud) reason to prevent women from praying at the holy site while wearing prayer shawls and reading aloud from the Torah

But the court ruling has not put an end to clashes between female worshipers and Israel's ultra-Orthodox community, as the Jerusalem Post reports:

Several thousand yeshiva students and Haredi school girls convened at the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem to protest the monthly prayer service of the Women of the Wall.

The protesters shouted at the Women of the Wall activists as they were conducting their first monthly service without restrictions after a court ruling two weeks ago reinterpreted existing laws and allowed them to be able to perform their own customs, such as wearing prayer shawls and tefillin, without fear of being arrested.

But the Women of the Wall are undeterred by the protests, and will continue to pray, according to a statement:

We have the great merit that Israeli women will arrive in their masses tomorrow for the prayer service for the New Month of Sivan. We call on the public which supports us, women and men, to come and pray with us, to liberate the Western Wall and to turn it into to the home of everyone.


By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Feminism Judaism Orthodox Judaism Women Of The Wall Women's Rights