Ultra-Orthodox rabbi fails to stop prayer service at Western Wall

Nov. 4, 2013 at 10:15 AM
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JERUSALEM, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Up to 1,000 Jewish women worshiped at Jerusalem's Western Wall Monday despite attempts by a group led by a rabbi to block the service, officials said.

A demonstration called by an ultra-Orthodox rabbi against the Women of the Wall's prayer service failed after fewer people than expected showed up, The Jerusalem Post reported.

No arrests or violence were reported but Women of the Wall said on its Facebook page men and boys harassed one of the board members of the female group, which aims to allow women to pray freely at one of Judaism's most sacred sites.

It said on its Facebook page: "25 years of sisterhood prayer and struggle at the the Kotel [Western Wall]. We have arrived. With 1,000 people singing hallel."

Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall, had called for ultra-Orthodox high school girls to fill the space reserved for women's prayer, a strategy he had used in previous months. Fewer than expected showed up and Women of the Wall was able to conduct the service.

Loudspeakers were used in the men's section in an attempt to drown out the women's prayers, an action that prompted Yizhar Hess, director of the Conservative movement, to call for Rabinowitz to be removed from his post.

The head of the Reform Movement in Israel, Rabbi Gilad Karly, noted that Rabinowitz had failed to create a provocation.

"This is proof that it is possible ... that all Jewish communities can pray according to their own customs at the Western Wall," Karly said.

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