World

5 women detained at Western Wall

JERUSALEM — Israeli ­police detained five women Thursday at a Jerusalem holy site for performing religious rituals that ultra-Orthodox Jews say are reserved for men.

The detentions came a day after an Israeli organization proposed a compromise to diffuse tensions over the issue of women’s worship at the Western Wall. The proposal envisions an area where men and women can pray together.

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About 120 women arrived Thursday morning for their monthly prayer service and police detained five for wearing prayer shawls. They were released without charge.

An ultra-Orthodox man was held for burning a prayer book and was still in custody.

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The Western Wall, the only remaining part of the biblical Temple compound, is the holiest site where Jews pray. It is divided into men’s and women’s areas. Orthodox rabbis ­oppose mixed-gender prayers.

In recent months, female worshipers have been detained for wearing religious garments and leading prayers.

Natan Sharansky, chairman of the semi-governmental Jewish Agency, offered a compromise Wednesday that could mark a victory for liberal streams of Judaism in their long quest for recognition.

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“The events at the Western Wall today are one more reminder of the urgent need to reach a permanent solution and make the Western Wall once again a symbol of unity among the Jewish people, and not one of discord and strife,” the agency said in a statement after the arrests.

Associated Press

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