On June 30, ultra-Orthodox extremists disrupted a progressive Judaism celebration at the egalitarian prayer space near Jerusalem's Western Wall, also known as the Kotel. Unlike previous similar incidents, this one continues to reverberate throughout Israel and world Jewry. It could even become a political issue ahead of the Nov. 1 general elections. Following the incident, American Jewish leaders have been expressing anger and frustration over the unsolved issue of the gender-mixed prayer space at one of Judaism’s most sacred venues.
On numerous occasions, activists in the Women of the Wall group and others have been attacked by ultra-Orthodox extremists in the vicinity of the Western Wall, both in the segregated prayer spaces and the egalitarian space created some two years ago. Still, the June 30 attack was especially disturbing as it affected children.