Western Wall rabbi warns haredi girls not to fill site’s plaza

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Aiming to reduce tension at the Western Wall Plaza, the site’s official rabbi has requested that haredi Orthodox girls not fill the plaza during a Women of the Wall service.

Women of the Wall, a group that comes to the Western Wall to pray at the beginning of each Jewish month, will gather at the site on Friday. In recent months, Israel’s haredi rabbinic leadership has sent thousands of haredi women and girls to pray at the Western Wall during Women of the Wall’s services, filling the women’s section of the plaza and preventing Women of the Wall from entering.


In advance of Friday’s Rosh Chodesh service, though, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz has requested that the girls refrain from coming, saying in a statement that the mass gathering could spark tensions at Judaism’s holiest site, and upset a fragile compromise on multidenominational prayer that has been taking shape through a committee convened by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to the statement, a confrontation between the haredi girls and Women of the Wall – whom Rabinowitz called a “provocation” – could upset the “sensitive security situation at the Temple Mount, which is now at its zenith.”

“When Jews fight with each other at the Western Wall, there is no greater desecration of God’s name,” the statement read. “Therefore we should await the decision of the committee, so that we can create order that will return calm and brotherhood to the Western Wall.”