Women Fight to Pray Aloud at Sacred Wall

Members of a Jerusalem women’s group called Women of the Wall have been trying to get arrested for violating “Regulation 13” during monthly meetings at the Western Wall where they read scriptures aloud. According to “Regulation 13,” a law that prohibits any acts at the Wall that offend worshipers, women are not permitted to read aloud, as the men do. “Women are not allowed to pray aloud. Our voices are considered to be provocative and lewd,” said Women of the Wall member Betsy Cohen-Kallus.

The Western Wall consists of the remains of the Sacred Temple that was built in 20 B.C. and destroyed by Romans 90 years later. The 110-member group has been gathering at the Wall for nine years. When the women first began to read aloud the men threw plastic chairs at the women from across the fence that segregates the sexes. The Religious Affairs Ministry, controlled by the ultra-orthodox, released a statement claiming the members of Women of the Wall “operate with an unclean core called women’s liberation.”

Many of the women immigrated from the U.S. and practice western feminism. A group member said, “We get it from the ultra-Orthodox, who feel women’s lips should move but their voices should not be heard. And we get it from the macho secular men, who say this is a country under siege, and women and children should stay behind to be protected.”

The issue has moved from Israel’s parliament, to courts to a ministerial study committee and has not been resolved.


Washington Post - March 23, 1998

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