July 8, 2013
More than 350 Women of the Wall were led by police escort to a fenced in area of the Western Wall (Kotel) Plaza while the Western Wall stood nearly empty at 7 AM on July 8, 2013. The women were held to pray in a space next to the public bathroom, usually used by Police as a parking area, and were not provide a separate section for women to pray away from the 100 male supporters, effectively forcing the women into mixed prayer. The women were refused entrance to the main plaza, to pray close-up to the Kotel, and instead, 100 ultra-Orthodox protesters with signs, whistles, throwing eggs and yelling were allowed free of the public, holy site.
The women’s section was full of seminary students bussed in for the purpose of blocking out Women of the Wall; however, the remaining space surrounding the Western Wall was empty. Hundreds of witnesses were shocked at the scene as there was ample room for Women of the Wall to pray. Despite claims of security and keeping the public order as the reason to blocking the women’s prayer from entering the Kotel, Police stood back and did nothing while an international female journalist was physically attacked by a haredi man and woman. Her request to file a complaint on the spot against the attackers was denied.
Lesley Sachs, Director of Women of the Wall said, “Today the Police gave in to politics and bullies instead of upholding women’s democratic right to pray freely at the Western Wall.”
Anat Hoffman, Chair, added, “During the prayer for the Peace of the State of Israel and Hatikvah, women were crying, especially in the line, “To be a free nation in our country”. We are more resolved than ever continue and come back next month with more women. We will see women pray freely at the Kotel.”
For nearly twenty-five years Women of the Wall has continued to fight for religious freedom and women’s rights at the Western Wall. As Women of the Wall, our central mission is to achieve the social and legal recognition of our right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall.