Conservative, religious Jews gathered at the Western Wall on Friday in an attempt to stop a group of liberal Jewish women from praying at the wall. The women were wearing prayer garbs traditionally worn by men. Police had to keep the two groups apart and arrested some conservative men for throwing things at the praying women.
The Israeli Supreme Court recently struck down gender segregation at the Wall, a direct result of protests by Jewish women’s groups. Many in the more conservative community resented this ruling and showed up in force to protest it. Some scholars see this as only one piece of Jewish news indicative of religious Jews’ decline of influence in Israeli life. Recently, politicians have moved to limit religious influence on the laws of marriage and divorce. They have also tried to limit army exceptions on the basis of religious study and cut back on subsiding larger families through welfare. The Western Wall could well be a proxy issue in the larger fight over public influence.
People in the religious community vowed to keep fighting for segregation at the Wall, but it is unlikely the court will review the issue anytime soon. Other groups have vowed to continue to forge a compromise on the gender issue at the Western Wall.