Charedim sabotage progressive Western Wall barmitzvah, tearing up prayer books

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Charedim sabotage progressive Western Wall barmitzvah, tearing up prayer books

Dozens of strictly-Orthodox protesters shouted over the service, calling worshipers “Nazis,” “Christians” and “animals".

Dozens of strictly-Orthodox protesters have disrupted a barmitzvah at the egalitarian plaza of the Western Wall, shouting over the service, calling the worshipers “Nazis,” “Christians” and “animals,” blowing whistles and ripping up prayer books, according to eyewitnesses.

In one case, a young strictly-Orthodox man was filmed ripping a page out of a prayer book, or siddur, and then wiping his nose with it while smirking.

“It was all really, really ugly,” said Laura Ben-David, who was hired by the family to photograph the barmitzvah.

“How can a nation of Jews allow a reality in which people fear for their security when they are just trying to pray in their own way in a plaza that was specifically designated for this type of prayer?” wrote the Masorti Movement, Israel’s equivalent to the American Conservative movement, in a tweet.

Rabbi Arie Hasit, who officiated the ceremony, said he was “broken” by the ordeal after the protesters called the bar mitzvah boy “a Christian… a Nazi and more.”

“This was an American boy who wanted to celebrate reaching the age of mitzvot, a boy who could have forgotten any connection with the Jewish people and the land of Israel but chose to go up to the Torah in Israel, in front of his parents, his grandfather and grandmother, and some family,” Hasit wrote in a public Facebook post.

The egalitarian section, sometimes known as the “Israel section,” the “family section” or, inaccurately, the “Reform section,” is located on the southern part of the Western Wall, separate from the main plaza, which is segregated by gender. It is meant to be a prayer space for use by more progressive streams of Judaism.

According to Ben-David, a handful of ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, boys were already milling around Thursday at the egalitarian section when the family arrived.

“It was strange. We thought, ‘What are they doing here?’” Ben-David said.

  • Published courtesy of our partners Times of Israel
Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: