Ultra-Orthodox protesters against a women’s prayer group at the Western Wall set a prayerbook on fire and mocked and hurled objects at the women, according to witnesses.
Some 150 members of Women of the Wall met at the holy site on Friday for their monthly prayer gathering, and faced an onslaught of derision and mockery from ultra-Orthodox men who oppose their religious practice.
Elizabeth Kirshner, a spokesperson for the group, said at one point she saw a siddur, or prayerbook, on the floor next to several Haredi men.
She reached out to pick it up, she told The Times of Israel, and realized it was burning.
The Haredi men who stood around the burning siddur then laughed at her, she said.
— (((SusanSilverman))) (@RabbaSusan) July 13, 2018
The incident was not the first time Haredi protesters have intentionally damaged a prayerbook belonging to Women of the Wall, Kirshner said.
“Two years ago, on Rosh Hodesh Tamuz [July 7, 2016], a man ripped in half one of our siddurim. But this, as far as I know, was the first burning.”
Some 150 women took part in the prayers Friday morning. As soon as the group had gathered, harassment from nearby men began, and included mocking and shouted curses, as well as thrown eggs, cookies and coffee cups.
A group of ultra-Orthodox women shoved members of the group and blew whistles to drown out their prayers.
— Hallel Silverman (@JustHallel) July 13, 2018
According to Women of the Wall, police sat on the sidelines and did nothing to stop the attacks.
The group’s chair, Anat Hoffman, told Israeli media the burning of the prayerbook shows “where the wind is blowing. Where siddurim are burned, in the end people will also be burned.”