JERUSALEM (JTA) — A request by Women of the Wall to hold a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony in the women’s section of the holy site was denied.
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbinic authority of the Western Wall and holy places, denied its request, Women of the Wall said in a statement Sunday. According to the group, Rabinowitz said the menorah lit on the men’s side can be seen by all.
“It is difficult not to suspect that Women of the Wall’s real intention is not prayer but rather their determination to change the customs at the Western Wall at any cost, while offending many of the masses of those who pray at the Western Wall and the traditions developed there over hundreds of years of prayer,” Rabinowitz wrote in his denial letter.
In its statement, Women of the Wall said its members will bring their own menorahs to the wall on Thursday evening and light them together in the women’s section. The group meets at the Western Wall once a month for prayers for the new month.
Women have the same obligation as men to light a Hanukkah menorah, the organization pointed out.
“Unfortunately, Rabinowitz does not recognize the genuine intention and right that Jewish women have to heartfelt prayer at the Kotel,” Women of the Wall wrote. “He has chosen to respond negatively to such a basic request for Women of the Wall and many other women to hold a Jewish ritual at the Kotel, which is permissible and required of us according to Jewish law.”
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declined to respond to the denial, Women of the Wall said in its statement. Writing to Netanyahu last month, the group asked that a large menorah equivalent to the one lit in the men’s section be placed in the women’s section, allowing the women to hold their own public lighting.
Netanyahu transferred the letter to Vice Minister of Religious Affairs, Eli Ben Dahan, who passed the letter on to Rabinowitz.