October 20, 2013
Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) men hurl rocks at and slash the tires of buses bearing ads on their sides promoting female worship at the Western Wall.
The ads depict women with prayer shawls and Torahs in front of the Wall. They are posted by Women of the Wall (WOW), a group of mostly religiously observant Jews who believe that women should be allowed to pray at the Western Wall with the same access and rights as men.
WOW was founded in 1988 at the First International Jewish Feminist Conference in Jerusalem when 100 women went to pray at the Wall and were met with verbal and physical assaults from Haredi men and women. WOW brought the issue of women praying at the Wall to the Supreme Court in 2002 and won, but the ruling was overturned on appeal. In 2005, WOW lost again.
The group’s court victory in 2013 does not end confrontations.
In 2014, WOW members bring a miniature Torah to the Wall for the first bat mitzvah there. In 2015, women read from a full-size Torah at the Wall for the first time.
In 2016 the government approves the creation of an egalitarian prayer space at the Wall for men and women to pray together on equal terms. The decision sparks complaints from Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Israelis.