Rabbi blocks women from Kotel lighting


chanucah-lighting at the Western Wall will remain a men's-only affair after the Kotel rabbi this week refused a request for a communal chanuciah to be set up in the women's section.

The women's group that lodged the request - via the Prime Minister's Office - is claiming that the decision is motivated by sexism, not by religious objections. "It really has nothing to do with Jewish law but to do with excluding some from the public sphere," said Shira Pruce, spokeswoman for the Women of the Wall alliance, a multi- denominational collective.

In response to the ruling, Women of the Wall pledged to hold a guerrilla lighting ceremony in the women's gallery, with its own chanuciot.

On each night of Chanucah, there is a communal lighting ceremony at the Wall, but it is in the men's prayer section and women can only watch from a distance.

Chanucah lighting differs from many other rituals in Jewish law, as women have the same obligation as men, and leading Charedi rabbis have stressed that woman may light candles on behalf of men. Nevertheless, women are never among those asked to light flames at the Wall.

Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall, claimed that his response was justified because different norms govern Chanucah lighting in synagogues as compared to homes.

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