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Israel bans special women's prayer at key holy site

Published:Thursday | April 21, 2016 | 10:19 AMAP
Israeli forces take position during clashes with Palestinian worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, during a clash in October 2012.


Israel's attorney general has banned a Jewish women's prayer group from holding a special service at a key Jerusalem holy site.

The group, Women of the Wall, calls for gender equality at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray. The site is overseen by an ultra-Orthodox rabbi who enforces conservative customs, including separate male-female prayer.

The Women of the Wall group has tried to challenge those norms and was to hold an all-female "priestly blessing" next week. That prayer is typically done by men.

A Justice Ministry statement yesterday said the decision was made because the female "priestly blessing" is an unrecognised custom that has never been held at the Western Wall.

Women of the Wall says the group intends to try to hold the service anyway.