Solidarity prayer called for women praying at Western Wall


NEW YORK (JTA) — Activists are calling for a day of solidarity at venues around the world in support of the right of women to pray at the Western Wall in "dignity, in safety and in shared community."

The grassroots initiative is being planned for Dec. 17 — the first day of the Hebrew month of Tevet — as an act of solidarity with the group Women of the Wall, after medical student Nofrat Frenkel was detained by police last month at the Western Wall for wearing a prayer shawl in violation of rules established by Israeli-sanctioned Orthodox religious authorities. She was taking part in the prayer service at the Western Wall held by the group on every Rosh Chodesh, the holiday marking the first day of every Hebrew month.

"With this national grassroots initiative, we will express our support for the rights of the Women of the Wall to assemble at the Kotel and to pray there with dignity, in safety and in shared community," wrote Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson, director of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, and Rivka Haut, of the Women’s Tefilla Network, in a mass e-mail.

"As with many other women’s grassroots efforts, each community, organization and institution shall develop its own program of prayer or study and shall reach out as widely as possible to its constituencies," they wrote. "For some groups, this day of solidarity and support will be in the manner of WOW, including tefillah and the reading of the Torah. For others, the program may be a "lunch and learn" text study session; or a women’s Chanukah observance. For yet others, it might be a gathering of three or more friends in a living room or office who will dedicate their joint prayer and/or study to the Women of the Wall. Some communities may want to add to their programs a screening of Yael Katzir’s film, ‘Praying in Her Own Voice."

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