Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Jewish woman arrested over shawl

The Western Wall
The Western Wall is Judaism's holiest prayer site

Israeli police have arrested a Jewish woman for wearing a prayer shawl at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Police said wearing the shawl - known as a tallit - was a violation of a High Court ruling that a dress code must by abided by at the Jewish holy site.

Nofrat Frenkel had been taking part in a monthly ceremony organised by the Women of the Wall religious group.

The chairwoman of the group, Anat Hoffman, criticised the move as unprecedented in Israel's history.

Police were called to the area when Ms Frenkel asked to read out a prayer at the site.

Women of the Wall organises prayer groups at the Western Wall on the first day of month in the Hebrew calendar.

There are differing religious opinions in Israel as to whether women should wear the tallit, which is traditionally worn by some men during religious observance.

Women of the Wall worshippers
The Women of the Wall organises prayer groups

Some groups in Israel have voiced their opposition to the practice.

Last week Israel's former chief Sephardi rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, denounced women's prayer groups that wear the tallit at the Western Wall as acting to promote a feminist cause and not out of piety.

"There are stupid women who come to the Western Wall, put on a tallit and pray," he said.

The Western Wall, sometimes referred to as the Wailing Wall or simply the Kotel (wall), is Judaism's holiest prayer site.

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