A long time ago, Jewish men and women thought that the joint prayer at the Wailing Wall was a perfectly acceptable option. Only some religious holidays were an exception – then women either did not come at all or prayed aside. Separation of worshipers by gender has appeared relatively recently. Due to a number of reasons, both political and cultural, it was realized in 1967, after the Jerusalem was unified.
Ancient civilization and Bar Mitzvah ceremony in Israel
For many centuries, the Jews weren’t allowed to worship in Jerusalem – right since the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Only in 325 AD, the Christian Byzantine Empire allowed the Jewish people to pray. They finally could make it at least on the ruins of their shrine, but only once a year – on the ninth of Av, on the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple.
Traditions in History
Orthodox Judaic tradition forbids women to publicly perform basic prayer rituals – reading aloud of the Torah, turning into Tallit, putting on kippah and Tefillin. There is no religious ban on women for these actions but the tradition has made them exceptionally for masculine gender. Therefore, when on December 9, 1988, about 100 Jewish women tried to pray in the women’s sector near the Western Wall, using all the attributes and reading of the Torah aloud, this led to riots and police intervention.
Struggle for rights
Thus, appeared the organization named “Women of the Wall”. The participants of this organization are still fighting for equal rights for all Jews, regardless of the gender. Since 1989, the organization has regularly appealed to the Supreme Court to remove restrictions from the female visitors of the main Jewish shrine. The court forbade all women, without exception, public reading of the Torah and wearing traditional prayer scarves while being on the Square – it happened in 2003. Nevertheless, the court obliged the Israeli government to make some space in Ars Robinson especially for the Women of the Wall. It’s located at the Southern end of the Western Wall and is not subject to direct control of the Ministry of Religious Affairs or even Rabbi of the Wall. It was opened in 2004, making a good and fair compromise.
Events: Bar Mitzvah ceremony in Israel
In 2013, Minister of Religious Affairs Naftali Bennet built a temporary prayer platform near the Wailing Wall, which is still in use. Women of the Wall begin praying every month starting from the general gathering on the square in front of the Wall, and from there they pass to the Arch of Robinson. Because of this, the partition was made higher to prevent smuggling of the Torah into the female section. When holding the Bar Mitzvah ceremony in Israel at the Western Wall, women can be next to the family and the hero of the celebration – Bar Mitzvah boy.
After lengthy negotiations, on January 31, 2016, the government decided to significantly expand the territory of the Robinson Arch and make it a space for joint prayers for men and women. However, on June 25, 2017, the Knesset froze this project.