April 21, 2016
Women of the Wall regretfully accept the General Attorney’s decision which they heard about from the media, but declare that they will hold the festive Shaharit Passover prayer at the women’s section of the Western Wall as planned on Sunday April 24th (1st day of Hol Hamoed) at 8:45 AM.
Anat Hoffman, Women of the Wall’s chairperson says, “From the press we gather that the decision of the General Attorney was made without consulting us, following a meeting with the Rabbi of the Kotel, Minister for Religious Affairs, representatives from the Prime Minister’s office, Ministry of Justice and Israel Police. They discussed ways to cancel the first women’s “Priestly Blessing” at the Western Wall and prevent the festive women’s prayer service. As stated, Women of the Wall were not invited to attend the meeting – as to be expected.
“This is an unhappy decision that submits to political pressure of an extremist minority group whose sole aim is to sabotage gender equality at the Western Wall and prevent women from having the right of prayer and worship. It is surprising that at this time, when there is such a need of prayer and blessing for people of Israel, the General Attorney supports delegitimization of women’s prayer, whose only wish is to bless and be blessed.
“Regretfully, following his decision, the Jerusalem police traffic department has decided to follow suit and informed us that the police will prevent the buses, bringing women from all over the country, from approaching the Old City gates. This will make it even harder for women to come and pray at the Kotel.”
Attorney Riki Shapira, Women of the Wall board member, says, “We disagree with the Attorney General’s jurisdiction since the holidays prayers of Shaharit and Mussaf include in them the Priestly Blessings, and these prayers are part of the ‘local custom’ as stated by the ruling of Judge Sobel.
“It is infuriating that the decision was given to us at the last moment, without the benefit of hearing our side before making it, as required by Israel’s Administrative Law. Also, the decision was made at such a time that we cannot appeal it to the Supreme Court.”
Women of the Wall believe that following today’s events, hundreds of women will join the women’s festive prayer that will take place, as planned, on Sunday morning, first day of Hol Hamoed, at 8:45 AM, in the women’s section of the Western Wall.