Banned and barred, Israel’s women stand up to religious hardliners

 

Source: The Guardian

BY 

Ultra-Orthodox influence has excluded women from speaking at funerals and public prayers, and taken them off the radio

A woman holding a portion of the Torah during the morning prayer service at the Western Wall, in Jerusalem.
A woman holding a portion of the Torah during the morning prayer service at the Western Wall, in Jerusalem. Photograph: UPI / Barcroft Images

The jeering crowds of men, held back by a thin security cordon as they screamed at the small group of women heading to the most sacred site in Judaism, occasionally made contact, kicking, pushing or tripping one of the would-be worshippers.

Sarah Moody, a 27-year-old preparing to become a rabbi, was among those knocked to the ground by the mob. As she scrambled back to her feet and headed towards the Western Wall, her knees were bruised and there were tears welling in her eyes. “It was frightening,” she said, raising her voice to be heard over cries of “evil-doers”, “anarchists” and other insults, and the shrill of blasting whistles. “They were right over me.”

The skirmish was the latest battle in a long-running war between women and increasingly vocal and assertive religious hardliners over the public role and private rights of women in Israel, in which many believe the heart of their country and democracy is at stake.

Over the last decade in different parts of Israel, women have been barred from sections of buses, banned from speaking at cemeteries, blocked from pavements, physically attacked for their clothing choices, airbrushed from newspapers and magazines and removed from the airwaves and news photos.

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