Wall partitions locked to prevent passing Torah to women

A male supporter of Women of the Wall was arrested after trying to pass a Torah scroll to the women’s section of the Western Wall during prayers for the new Jewish month.

The partitions separating the men’s and women’s sections were locked together and metal barriers placed alongside them on May 19 to prevent the women from receiving a Torah scroll from the men’s side.

Activist Nitai Groen was detained by police after trying to pass a Torah scroll over the partitions, called a mechitzah in Hebrew, according to Women of the Wall. He was later released.

Despite being unable to pray using a Torah, the group celebrated the bat mitzvahs of six 12-year-old girls who had been prepared to chant from the scroll.

Regulations at the site set by the office of the Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites of Israel, headed by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, have prevented women from using a Torah scroll in their section.

Last month, the women’s group chanted from a full-size Torah kept in the men’s section, which was passed to them by moving apart segments of the mechitzah. Haredi Orthodox men praying at the Wall physically attacked the men who helped the women, and then broke through the barrier and attempted to take the scroll away from the women.

An April 2013 Supreme Court ruling acknowledged women’s right to pray at the Western Wall according to their beliefs, claiming it does not violate what has come to be known as “local custom.”

Women of the Wall gather at the Western Wall at the start of each Jewish month for the morning prayer service. — jta