Women of the Wall service swells following deal

100 attend group’s Western Wall prayers shortly after compromise agreement struck over new non-Orthodox worship area

Women of the Wall pray at the Western Wall on February 7, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Women of the Wall pray at the Western Wall on February 7, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Women of the Wall organization drew 100 women to its monthly service on Wednesday— more than its typical attendance — a week and a half after the adoption of a compromise over the future of prayer at the Western Wall.

Haredi Orthodox protesters shouted insults at the worshipers, according to a news release from the group, which conducts monthly services in the women’s section of the wall. The group was unable to pray with a Torah, as the site’s regulations prohibit Torahs in the women’s section.

Women of the Wall usually attracts several dozen worshipers to the service to mark the new Hebrew month.

The deal reached last month will expand a non-Orthodox prayer section south of the Orthodox state-rabbinate-controlled main plaza at the site, which will be run by a non-Orthodox committee. A shared entrance will lead to both sections. The wall’s Orthodox prayer area will remain under Haredi control through Israel’s chief rabbinate.

Women of the Wall agreed to the deal, and will move to the expanded non-Orthodox section once it is completed — a process that could take years. Once there, the group will pray behind a partition. A breakoff from the group has rejected the deal and vowed to continue praying in the Orthodox women’s section.

“We sang with the feeling that now we truly begin a new path to ‘being a free people in our land,’” Women of the Wall chair Anat Hoffman said in the news release, quoting Israel’s national anthem.

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