Israel’s chief rabbis receive death threats over Women of the Wall prayer

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s chief rabbis received death threats in letters to their offices warning them to allow the Women of the Wall to pray “in accordance with our customs.”

The letters, headlined “This is a last warning,” were delivered Monday to the offices of Rabbi Yona Metzger and Rabbi Shlomo Amar. A complaint was filed with the security officer of the Prime Minister’s Office.

“If the Women of the Wall are not allowed to pray in accordance with our customs, we shall fight you with all available means and you will end up with a hundred dead haredi bodies. Your end is near,” the letter read, according to reports,

The rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, said in a statement issued Monday that he also had received a threatening letter calling for him to allow the Women of the Wall to pray at the Kotel undisturbed. Rabinowitz’s office said a complaint over the letter had been filed with the Israel Police in Jerusalem.

The Women of the Wall said in a statement that the organization “is saddened by the violent threats that were sent to the Chief Rabbis. We wish them strength and courage during this trying time.

“All those involved and educated on the subject know that there is no connection between the content and style of these letters and the spirit of nonviolence, tolerance and acceptance which drives Women of the Wall.”

The Women of the Wall is scheduled to meet at the Western Wall on June 9 for its monthly prayer service to celebrate the beginning of the Hebrew month of Tammuz.

Last month was the group’s first monthly service at the wall following the ruling of a Jerusalem District Court judge that said its services at the back of the women’s section do not violate the law and merit police protection rather than arrests.

In previous months, the women had been arrested for wearing prayer shawls during the service, which the group has held for two decades, because police said the practice contravened the site’s “local custom.”