Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appointed former dissident Natan Sharansky to broker a compromise between Jewish women who want to pray at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, and the ultra-Orthodox men who have called their presence an “abomination.”
The feminist group Women of the Wall has been holding prayer groups at the square for decades. They sing aloud, read from the Torah, and wear prayer shawls. But the Jewish holy site is managed by Orthodox rabbis, who maintain the Wall according to the strict interpretations of Jewish law and observance. These rabbis, in addition to police regulations, have significantly restricted women’s prayer at the Wall.
As a result, the Women of the Wall have clashed with Israeli police, been forcibly removed from the square, taken in for questioning and even arrested — just for expressing their faith.
Both groups have said the ban on women singing and reading from the Torah at the Wall threatens to distance American Jews from Israel, according to the Daily Beast.
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