Rabbis launch campaign for Women of the Wall

Rabbis launch campaign for Women of the Wall

SAN FRANCISCO — A group of North American rabbis has launched an online campaign to support women who want to pray at the Western Wall with Torahs and prayer shawls.

The 28 rabbis, calling themselves Rabbis for Women of the Wall, sent a letter Monday morning to seven Israeli leaders urging protection for those women.

The letter, signed by the presidents of the Reform, Conservative, Renewal and Reconstructionist rabbinical associations, was sent to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, opposition leader and Kadima Party head Tzipi Livini, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites.

It calls upon the officials, as well as Jerusalem’s mayor and police chief, to “provide protection to Women of the Wall as they pray at the Kotel … rather than harassing them.”

The letter also calls on the Israeli officials to “find appropriate and safe venues at the Kotel for Jews who are not comfortable with women leading worship or holding the Torah or reading from it to enjoy their practice of Judaism unhindered, and physically separated from other designated portions of the Kotel where women are allowed to lead worship, wear a tallit, wear tefillin, hold the Torah and read from the Torah.”

For more than 20 years, members of Women of the Wall have fought, and lost, legal battles in Israeli courts seeking the right to pray with Torahs and prayer shawls at the Western Wall. They have faced physical and verbal attacks from haredi Orthodox men and women at the site.

The group has been permitted to pray at an alternate site, Robinson’s Arch, at the southern end of the wall.