Women of the Wall want probe of Jerusalem posters

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Women of the Wall asked police to investigate posters hung in haredi Orthodox neighborhoods that the organization says are threatening to its members.

The unsigned posters, called pashkevillim, say the organization is causing the Western Wall to be “trampled and desecrated,” and call on those who care about the Kotel to attend rosh chodesh services on Tuesday morning “to protest against the desecration of the holy.”

Women of the Wall chairwoman Anat Hoffman on Sunday lodged a formal complaint with Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Israel Police Chief Yohanan Danino alleging “incitement of violence against Women of the Wall,” the organization said on its website.   

“Though there were no rabbis signed or taking responsibility for this call, as is customary on pashkevillim, it would seem that someone anonymous has an interest in opposing Women of the Wall’s prayer, despite the relative quiet of the last few months,” the statement said. “Aside from police detainments (43 detainments of women in six months), the prayers at the Kotel have gone undisturbed lately, and the Purim celebrations proved that without violent opposition or police intervention, the Jews present are quite capable of tolerance and sharing the holy space.”

Women of the Wall has held a special prayer service at the holy site almost each month for the last 20 years on rosh chodesh, or the beginning of a new Hebrew month, at the back of the women’s section. The group will meet on Tuesday morning for services for Nissan.

The Israel Police since June have made nearly monthly arrests related to dress code violations related to the Women of the Wall’s monthly service.

At the beginning of the last Hebrew month, Adar, Jerusalem police arrested 10 women, including the sister and niece of American comedian Sarah Silverman, for disturbing public order. Two weeks later, a women’s Megillah reading for Purim took place undisturbed.

In 2003, Israel’s Supreme Court upheld a government ban on women wearing tefillin or tallit, prayer shawls, or reading from a Torah scroll at the Wall.

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