As feminist prayer group Women of the Wall arrived at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Monday for a bat mitzvah ceremony and their monthly prayer service, they found their way blocked by crowds of dissenters.
The Women of the Wall have sparked extreme backlash in Israel for their petitions to change gendered restrictions at the Kotel, or Western Wall. They seek a space at the wall for women and men to pray together—currently, the Western Wall has only sex-segregated spaces. The group has also advocated for women’s right to read Torah at the Kotel.
Last week, a friendly competition in Tel Aviv, Israel brought together Christians, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims in ways that event coordinators believe showcased the groups’ potential for acceptance and coexistence. The event was the first of its kind: a transgender beauty pageant, held to kick off Tel Aviv’s LGBT Pride week.
Spectators packed Tel Aviv’s Bima National Theater Friday to cheer on the pageant’s 12 finalists, a group that included a Muslim belly dancer, a Catholic Arab ballerina, and an Orthodox Jewish baker.