Protests by several thousand charedi Orthodox demonstrators turned into a melee as demonstrators spat on and shoved members of the egalitarian Women of the Wall group.
The protests Friday coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Women of the Wall, a group whose members are seeking equal rights at the Western Wall. The group and its supporters believe that women and men should be allowed to worship according to their own customs and not those of the holy site’s Orthodox administrators.
In Orthodox Judaism, women and men pray separately, and some rituals are performed exclusively by men. The Western Wall has a women-only plaza, a larger men-only plaza, and since 2000, a small egalitarian plaza where men and women can pray together.
About 6,000 charedi protesters had gathered at the men’s and women’s sections to protest the service held at the women’s section by 150 female activists of Women of the Wall, according to the Israel Broadcasting Corp., or Kan.
At the women’s section, the Women of the Wall worshippers said they were spat upon and shoved by girls attending religious seminaries, according to the report. Amid police attempts to prevent escalation, the Women of the Wall activists moved to the egalitarian plaza, known as the Ezrat Yisrael section.
Rabbi Noa Sattath, the director of the Israel Religious Action Center, the social justice arm of the Reform movement in Israel, was lightly injured in the scuffle.
Someone in the crowd spat on the director general of the Masorti movement in Israel, Yizhar Hess, according to Kan.
JTA Wire Service