Standoff at Western Wall Over Praying by Women
Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews tried to block a liberal women’s group from praying at the Western Wall on Friday morning, creating a tense standoff in the latest flash point of a broader battle over religion and identity that has engulfed Israel.
Heeding calls from their rabbis, religious teenage girls turned up in large numbers to protest the group’s insistence on praying at the wall in religious garb traditionally worn by men. The girls crammed the women’s section directly in front of the wall by 6:30 a.m., forcing the liberal women to conduct their prayer service farther back on the plaza. There, hundreds of police officers locked arms in cordons to hold back throngs of black-hatted Orthodox men who whistled, catcalled, and threw water, candy and a few plastic chairs.