In many cultures, the beginning of winter is marked with a religious holiday dedicated to light. Northern Europeans have Saint Lucia, Hindus have Diwali, and Jews have Hanukkah, an eight-day festival in which candles are lit every evening to remember a miracle which blessed the rededication of the Beit HaMikdash (the Holy Temple) of Jerusalem, around the year 170 BCE.
Jerusalem, Israel – 9th of June, 2013: The womens’ prayer group Women of the Wall held their monthly prayers at the Kotel. After the previous month’s events, which saw thousands of religious seminary girls gather in a counter-prayer and a few hundreds of angry haredi youth causing lots of trouble, this month’s prayer tool place peacefully, also thanks to a massive deployment of Israeli policemen which physically escorted the Women of the Wall to and out of the women’s section of the Kotel, and established several barriers to protect them.
Jerusalem, Israel – 26th of May, 2013: Soldiers of the Nahal Haredi battalion, a religiously observant unit of the IDF, take part in their swearing-in ceremony at the Givat Hatachmoshet (Ammunition Hill) museum.
Jerusalem, Israel – 15th of May, 2013: Tens of thousands of haredim (ultra-orthodox Jews) gathered outside one of Jerusalem’s army induction centers to protest against the government’s plan to begin drafting them into the IDF.
Jerusalem, Israel – 10th of May, 2013: The prayer group Nashot HaKotel (the Women of the Wall) returned to the Kotel (Jerusalem’s Western Wall) to hold their Rosh Hodesh prayers, marking the beginning of the new Jewish month. In a challenge to what they describe as the domination of orthodoxy over contemporary Judaism, these women read the Torah aloud, and pray wearing a tallit (prayer shawls), two practices that are traditionally reserved for men.