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Israeli women reclaim the Western Wall

JERUSALEM — A group of Jewish women gathered in prayer Monday at the Western Wall to mark Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the new lunar month.

Even as they gathered to pray, police closed in. The women fell to the ground, unwilling to be dragged away.

Police did not want to be seen apprehending women at prayer, so they stepped back, waiting. Only after the service ended did police arrest 10, including three American rabbis: Robyn Fryer Bodzin, Debra Cantor and Susan Silverman, sister of famed comedienne Sarah Silverman.

Their crime? Being women wearing traditionally male religious garb at what is considered the holiest of Jewish sites.

The Western Wall is the last remnant of the original Temple of King Solomon, destroyed during the Babylonian invasions. It has been mentioned in Jewish texts since the fourth century and has, under the Law of Holy Places, been de facto designated as an Orthodox synagogue where the sexes pray separately.

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