(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) A scuffle erupted at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City Wednesday morning between haredim worshippers at the site and members of the Women of the Wall organization, who carried Torah scrolls onto the prayer plaza.
Women of the Wall, and some 200 members of the Reform and Conservative movements, marched toward the prayer plaza, calling on the government to implement a cabinet decision to build an egalitarian prayer plaza at the holy site.
"We broke through. We made history," Women of the Wall Chairwoman Anat Hoffman said after protesters arrived at the Western Wall with the Torah scrolls to conduct a prayer service.
Video of the incident showed security guards using force against the group, leading to a number of altercations while haredim worshippers attempted to wrestle away the Torah scrolls.
Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch said he instructed ushers at the holy site not to confront Women of the Wall members holding the Torah scrolls, "out of fear of harm [to the scrolls].”
"Women of the Wall brutally violated not just the directives issued by the attorney general, but all guidelines and customs that have always existed at the Western Wall," Rabinovitch said. "The heart is torn at the sight of Torah scrolls, the holiest of holies, bandied about like signs at a protest. Never has there been such a thing.”
“The unfortunate incident this morning at the Western Wall does not help advance a solution for prayer arrangements there,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. The Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Knesset said yesterday to the leaders of the non-Orthodox movements that “now is the time for dialogue and not for unnecessary friction. The unilateral violation of the status quo at the Western Wall this morning undermines our ongoing efforts to reach a compromise.”