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Women of the Wall pray with little disturbance

JERUSALEM (JTA) — In its first service following its 25th anniversary ceremony, Women of the Wall prayed with little interference from protesters.

The group, which meets for a prayer service in the women’s section of the Western Wall at the beginning of each Jewish month, drew about 100 women on Wednesday. At the anniversary service last month, Women of the Wall drew more than 800 worshipers.

In protest of the Western Wall prohibition of women bringing a Torah scroll into the women’s section, Women of the Wall members took turns holding a Torah scroll at the entrance to the Western Wall Plaza.

Thousands of Orthodox girls had turned out in past months to demonstrate against the group and block it from the women’s section. But the girls were absent Wednesday at the request of Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who asked Women of the Wall and protesters to refrain from confrontation during Hanukkah.

A handful of haredi Orthodox men did protest, however, screaming and blowing whistles as the women prayed. Police briefly detained one haredi protester who has disrupted several previous Women of the Wall services; haredi protesters shouted “Nazis” at the police as they detained the man.

Later in the service, police also detained a woman who confronted the haredi protesters.

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