About a dozen women sit underneath a large Israeli flag at Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall. They’ve been here close to 24 hours, and are getting tired. They are members of Women of the Wall (WOW), a 25-year-old group of women from all denominations that wants equality for women at the Western Wall.
Currently the Western Wall is run as an Orthodox synagogue, meaning men and women are separated by a barrier called a mechitza. Women are not allowed to read aloud from the Torah, the scroll of the Old Testament, on their side.
This week, Israel’s Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, Naftali Bennett, inaugurated a large wooden desk as a prayer plaza for men and women to pray together, as is the custom in Conservative and Reform synagogues. In Israel, Conservative and Reform Jews are a small minority of Jews, while in the US, they are the vast majority.
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