Netanyahu shares call to block pluralistic prayer service at Kotel

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared a tweet from Shas leader Arye Deri calling for blocking a planned pluralistic prayer service at the Western Wall on Friday morning.

The service, organized by Women of the Wall, is scheduled for Rosh Hodesh Kislev, the first day of the new month on the Jewish calendar, as the organization does every month.

Opposition chief Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the commemoration ceremony marking 26 years since the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem on October 18, 2021 (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI / FLASH90).

In recent years, these services have been hotbeds of conflict with Haredi protesters and police officers who have tried to prevent women from bringing a Torah scroll to the women’s section of the Jewish holy site.

Deri, a longtime opponent of the group, wrote on Twitter that he and his fellow haredi MKs would be on the site on Friday to block the service. Netanyahu, closely aligned with ultra-Orthodox parties, shared the tweet.

In April, the Labor Party and reform leader Rabbi Gilad Kariv brought a Torah scroll to the Western Wall plaza in defiance of the site’s regulations. It was used in a Rosh Hodesh prayer service by the Women of the Wall.
Regulations at the Western Wall prohibit bringing Torah scrolls to the site. Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Places, prohibited the Wall Women from using available Torah scrolls for male prayer groups. Like MK, Kariv was able to bring a small Torah scroll for the Rosh Hodesh prayer service without the security personnel of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation being able to prevent its entry or confiscate it due to its parliamentary immunity.

The Women of the Wall and Reform and Masorti (Conservative) movements in Israel have fought a decades-long battle for prayer rights and access to their on-site prayer services.

MK Kariv carries the Torah scroll to the Western Wall plaza (credit: WOMEN OF THE WALL)MK Kariv carries the Torah scroll to the Western Wall plaza (credit: WOMEN OF THE WALL)These organizations agreed to a compromise with the haredi parties in 2016, whereby the southern section of the Western Wall would be upgraded and recognized as an official shrine for progressive Jewish prayer by the government, in exchange for which they would renounce their rights to However, the haredi parties backtracked and forced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to suspend the agreement indefinitely in 2017. A petition to the High Court of Justice demanding that the government implement the 2016 agreement, as well as a petition demanding that the Regulations prohibiting the use of external Torah scrolls on the site from being overturned are pending in court.

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