Shas to propose bill prohibiting non-Orthodox prayer customs at Western Wall

MKs from the Shas political party are expected to propose a new bill soon in order to regulate the prayer rituals at the Western Wall, permitting only Orthodox customs and prayer ceremonies at the holy site. Women of the Wall stated in response that the bill the ultra-Orthodox political party is trying to pass is the first step in turning Israel into a theocracy.
Women of the Wall members at the Western Wall Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

Yesterday (Monday), Shas MKs released the draft of a bill they will be proposing in order to regulate the prayer rituals at the Western Wall. The bill seeks to permit only Orthodox prayer customs at the holy site. It is suspected that the bill was designed in order to thwart the attempts of creating an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall.

The new bill prohibits, among other things, co-ed prayer and all expressions of Judaism that “do not fit the custom of the site,” meaning that some of the Conservative and Reform religious ceremonies and customs would not be permitted. In addition, the bill includes explicit bans on female Jewish worshipers, prohibiting them from reading Torah, blowing shofars and wearing a prayer shawl and tefillin (phylacteries). These bans prohibit many customs practiced by the members of the Women of the Wall organization.  

Women of the Wall stated in response: “The Israeli Declaration of Independence guarantees freedom of worship and religion and gender equality. The law of the Torah that the ultra-Orthodox political parties are trying to pass in the Knesset via the ‘Western Wall Law’ is the first step in becoming a theocracy. Anyone who thinks that the law of the Torah will start and end at the Western Wall is seriously mistaken and anyone who thinks that this is just another attempt to harm the Women of the Wall will quickly discover that the goal is to run the country in accordance with outdated world values while erasing the most basic democratic rights.”

Earlier this month, JOL reported that dozens of protesters clashed with about 200 Reform and Conservative worshipers who were marching to the Western Wall in order to enter the holy site with Torah scrolls.

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