(JTA) — Women who defied Western Wall Plaza rules by bringing a small Torah scroll there were allowed to finish praying.
The decision to allow a few dozen members of the Women of the Wall feminist group to continue their prayer was made to prevent desecration of the scroll even though their actions were in breach of the rules, according to a statement Friday by the office of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, who runs the Western Wall, or Kotel, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.
“A small group of women carried out a deception this morning by bringing in a small Torah scroll into the women’s section after they had been prevented from bringing in a large one,” read the statement. “In the future, efforts will be made to prevent such events from recurring, as it is forbidden for anyone, man or woman, to bring in a Torah scroll into the plaza.”
According to Israel Radio, 150 women participated in the prayer with a small Torah scroll, which they concealed prior to entering the women’s section. The Torah scroll is 200 years old and was brought especially from Britain for the prayer, the report said.
Women of the Wall gathers at the Western Wall at the start of each Jewish month. The group’s members have clashed frequently with staff from Rabinovitch’s office and with police for holding services that violate the rules enforced by that office, including singing, wearing prayer shawls and other customs that are forbidden to women under the office’s interpretation of Orthodox Jewish law.