Women of the wall: Navigating religion in sacred sites

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


For more than twenty-five years, the Women of the Western Wall (WoW) have been leading a groundbreaking struggle, attempting to gain permission from Israeli authorities to pray according to their manner at Judaism’s holiest prayer site, the Western Wall. The WoW’s determined activism has gained widespread media coverage. This book is the first comprehensive academic study of their struggle, and it seeks to place it in a comparative and theoretical context. It explores various dimensions of the group’s struggle, including an analysis of the women’s attempts to modify Jewish Orthodox mainstream religious practice from within and invest it with a new, egalitarian content; a comprehensive survey of the numerous legal rulings of various courts about the case; and considerations of the broader political and social significance of the WoW struggle. This analysis in turn makes it possible to address several wider questions in religion-state relations: How should governments manage religious plurality within their borders? How should governments respond to the requests of minorities—in this case, religious women—that conflict with the mainstream interpretation of a given tradition? How should governments manage disputed sacred spaces located in the public sphere? Women of the Wall: Navigating Religion in Sacred Sites critically explores several theories of religion-state relations, and concludes that a context-sensitive privatization is the most adequate governmental response, for the WoW struggle as well as for similar current religious conflicts over sacred sites and public spaces.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages273
ISBN (Electronic)9780190280451
ISBN (Print)9780190280444
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Disputed sacred space
  • Jewish women
  • Privatization
  • Religion in the public sphere
  • Religion-state relations
  • Religious feminism
  • Religious minorities
  • Sacred site
  • Western Wall
  • Women of the Wall

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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