Jerusalem – Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the chief cleric in charge of overseeing religious affairs at the Western Wall, denounced the prayer rights group Women of the Wall on Monday for bringing a Torah scroll into the women’s section of the plaza adjoining Judaism’s holiest site.
The rabbi condemned the move by the group, which has been agitating for a “change [in] the status-quo that is currently preventing women from being able to pray freely at the Western Wall,” as “provocative.”
“This morning, at the outset of the Jewish month of Iyar, the Women of the Wall tore yet another piece of the delicate fabric that surrounds the Western Wall,” Rabinowitz said. “A Torah scroll was blasphemously brought in [to the women’s section] as if it were some random object.”
“This is a provocative act whose aim is to ignite tensions at the Kotel, as evidenced by the cameras that were on hand to capture the moment,” the rabbi said. “Indeed, WoW ‘succeeded’ in provoking anger among worshipers. It was only by virtue of the hard work of the Israel Police and Western Wall employees that bloodshed was averted.”
Last year, the group managed to bring an extremely small Torah into the women’s section of the Western Wall plaza, defying official regulations prohibiting the entry of private Torah scrolls to the site.
The group initially tried to bring in a regular, full-size Torah scroll but were prevented from doing so by security officials and a representative of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which administers the site.
The Torah was extremely small, just 28 cm. high including the handles, and was placed into a prayer-shawl bag and brought into the site.
WoW said the scroll they used conforms with all requirements of Jewish law to be used in formal prayer services. It was used for the bat mitzva ceremony of Sasha Lutt in what the group said was an historic first at the Western Wall.