Sunday morning, 75 women gathered before the Western Wall in Jerusalem, one of the city’s holiest sites, to pray aloud. Their prayer was met by taunts and jeers from a crowd of mostly ultra-Orthodox men (and some Orthodox women) who accused them of desecrating the site with their presence. “You are not Jews,” some shouted.
The prayer gathering, a demonstration in favor of equality for women in Israel and in Judaism, followed last week’s vote on a bill that would set a seven-year jail term for women praying, wearing prayer shawls, blowing the Shofar, and participating in other rituals at the Western Wall. The bill passed the first of three required votes when nearly half the members of the parliament were absent, and is not expected to be made into law. It also violates a recent Israeli Supreme Court decision protecting women’s right to pray at the Wall.