JERUSALEM (Aug. 25)
Nearly 1,000 Orthodox men and women today participated in a public prayer session at the Sephardic Synagogue in Jerusalem in a protest against the bill for conscription of religious women for non-military national service. The measure is expected to receive its final reading in Parliament toward the end of the week.
While the Cabinet was hammering out a compromise on a bill regulating marriage and divorce — thus clearing the way for a final vote on that measure and the conscription bill — the Orthodox men and women assembled in the courtyard of the synagogue. Some of them sat on the ground and covered their heads with sackcloth and ashes, reciting portions of the Rosh Hashanah liturgy and blowing shofar’s.
In various other synagogues throughout the city, small groups of Cabbalists prayed and then made their way to the Sephardic Synagogue where they prayed that “God’s vengeance be averted.” Large numbers of police gathered about the synagogue to control the hundreds of bystanders who blocked traffic and to keep them from interfering with the white-bearded old men and the women who were beating their breasts during the prayers.