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Who’s entitled to pray, and where?

The Women of the Wall originated in 1988 as a Rosh Hodesh gathering of women who wanted to pray together at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. They wanted to be able to pray in a tallit and tefillin and read from the Torah in women-led and women-only services, so as to comply with Orthodox Jewish religious law. Who would have thought that, nearly 25 years later, this would still be such a fraught issue? Today, women still meet every month to celebrate Rosh Hodesh—only now with police protection because of an April 25 Jerusalem District Court decision that they are not violating the law by exercising their religious freedom. And the right to pray at the Wall as one chooses has become a bellwether for other kinds of religious and civil liberty issues in the State of Israel.

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