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Saturday, August 23, 2014

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Five women detained at Women of the Wall service

Tags: Israel
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JERUSALEM — Five women were detained for wearing prayer shawls at a Women of the Wall service at the Western Wall.

Hundreds of women came to Thursday's service, which Women of the Wall hold at the Western Wall at the beginning of each Jewish month. According to Israeli law, women are not allowed to wear prayer shawls at the Western Wall because the practice contravenes the site's "local custom."

The group's director, Lesley Sachs, was among those detained. A haredi man was also detained, according to Israeli reports, for attempting to set one of the women's prayer books on fire.

Meretz MKs Tamar Zandberg and Michal Rozin attended the service for the second straight month. Last month, Labor MK Stav Shaffir also attended the service.

The detainments come two days after Natan Sharansky presented a plan to American Jewish leaders to expand the Western Wall Plaza in order to include a space for non-Orthodox prayer. Sharansky proposed that the plaza include Robinson's Arch, an archaeological site adjacent to the plaza -- but separated by several walls and a bridge. Non-Orthodox prayer is currently allowed at Robinson's Arch.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tasked Sharansky with drafting the proposal last year, following calls for change from American and Israeli Jewish leaders.

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