JERUSALEM (JTA) – Hundreds of women joined Women of the Wall for the group’s monthly Rosh Chodesh service at the Western Wall, which included a Torah scroll smuggled in to the women’s section.
Among the some 300 women who assembled for the service on Thursday morning to mark the new Hebrew month of Iyar were those from nine pre-army leadership training programs from across the religious spectrum, the group said in a statement.
The women prayed enclosed in metal security barriers at the side and back of the women’s section manned by police and Western Wall security.
Some Orthodox women protested the service with signs and by making noise with sticks to drown out the prayers and Torah reading.
The group has held its monthly Rosh Chodesh prayer for the new Hebrew month in the women’s section for more than 25 years.
In January, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of women being allowed to read from the Torah in the women’s section at the Western Wall, and put a halt to security searches of the women for items such as Torah scrolls, tallitot and tefillin. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation had prevented women from bringing Torah scrolls and religious items into the women’s section.
An agreement for egalitarian prayer at the site announced a year ago would expand the egalitarian section at the wall and place it under the authority of a pluralist committee while solidifying haredi Orthodox control over the site’s traditional Orthodox section. Women of the Wall would move to the non-Orthodox section once the deal is implemented.
Later, however, the religious partners backed away from the deal and in June, a group of Orthodox Jewish organizations filed a petition with Israel’s Supreme Court to prevent the establishment of the egalitarian section.
The Reform and Conservative movements in Israel and the Women of the Wall in October 2016 petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to order the government to follow through on the plan to create the egalitarian prayer area next to the Western Wall.