Posters reading “Help! The Western Wall is being trampled and desecrated” were spotted in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem over the weekend, prompting Women of the Wall chairwoman Anat Hoffman to lodge a complaint with Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Police Chief Yohanan Danino on Sunday.
Hoffman requested an investigation be launched into the posters, stating that when the word “help” is followed by “desecration” no fewer than three times, it’s clearly a call to harm the Women of the Wall.
The posters call on members of the ultra-Orthodox community to come to the Old City on Tuesday, the first day of the Hebrew month of Nissan, and protest against “the desecration of the Western Wall, and the sacrilege at the hands of the Women of the Wall.”
Hoffman said that such a call could encourage people to prevent the so-called sacrilege by harming members of the group.
“The fact that in the 21st century, Jewish women in Israel are arrested because of their desire to pray at Judaism’s the holiest site, while Haredi extremists are roaming free distributing such posters, is absurd and it requires taking immediate steps,” wrote Hoffman in her letter to Aharonovitz and Danino.
Over the past several years police have repeatedly arrested activists while praying at the Western Wall wearing a prayer shawl, tefilin or reading from the Torah.
Western Wall regulations dictate that women cannot wear tallitot, or prayer shawls, in the same manner as men, as it contravenes the “local custom” determined by the Wall’s chief rabbi. In 2003, the High Court of Justice upheld a government ban on women wearing tefillin (phylacteries) or tallitot, or reading from a Torah scroll at the Western Wall.
In a recent Times of Israel interview, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he has tried to mediate between the Women of the Wall and the authorities, “but with the understanding that the Western Wall has to be managed in an Orthodox way. That’s the status quo, for better and for worse.”
Last month, two of 10 women arrested at the Wall were Rabbi Susan Silverman, sister of US comedienne Sarah Silverman, and Susan’s daughter.
International attention was shed on the incident when Silverman praised her relatives’ actions to her 4 million followers on twitter.
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