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Women of the Wall Win in District Court

Police appeal rejected, women’s prayer does not disturb public order, does not violate the law.
Director of "Women of the Wall" Leslie Sachs leaving the courtroom at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem, April 11, 2013.

Director of "Women of the Wall" Leslie Sachs leaving the courtroom at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem, April 11, 2013.
Photo Credit: FLASH90

The Jerusalem District Court handed down its decision on Thursday in The State of Israel, Israel Police vs. Lesley Sachs, Bonnie Riva Ras, Sylvie Rozenbaum, Rabbi Valerie Stessin, and Sharona Kramer, the five women who were arrested on April 11, 2013 while praying at the Western Wall.

Judge Moshe Sobell decided against the police appeal, confirming the Magistrate Court decision by Judge Sharon Larry-Bavly, which stated that there was no cause for arrest and that the women did not disturb the public order. The women were released with no conditions and police request for a restraining order against their entering the Kotel site was rejected.

Judge Sobell also declared that the Supreme Court decision of 2003 was never intended to serve as an injunction that would make the women’s prayers while clad in tallitot a criminal violation. The judge added that there is no reasonable suspicion that the women are violating the Supreme Court decision. As to the High Court recommendation that the women pray in the Robinson’s Arch, Sobell declared that this does not necessarily mean that the women are prohibited from praying at the Western Wall’s women’s section.

The judge also declared that the women are not violating the restriction in the law governing sacred sites, which says that visitors at the Western Wall are to pray and hold religious celebrations according to the “local custom.” In the judge’s view, the “local custom” should to be interpreted with national and pluralistic implications, and not necessarily the Orthodox Jewish customs of the city of Jerusalem.

As to the charge of endangering or disturbing the public peace, the Judge ruled that even if the women had behaved in a way that disturbed the public order, they never posed a danger to the public peace. The women were in no way suspect of violent or verbally unruly behaviors that would endanger the public.

Judge Sobell ruled that there are to be no limitations imposed on the accused women.

Anat Hoffman, Chairperson of Women of the Wal, said, “Today Women of the Wall Liberated the Western Wall for all Jewish People. We did it for the eight year old girl who can now dream of having her Bat Mitzvah at the Wall, and for the grandmother who cannot climb on a chair in order to see her son’s Bar Mitzvah. We did it for the great diversity of Jews in the world, all of whom deserve to pray according to their belief and custom at the Western Wall.”

It is not yet known whether the police is considering appealing today’s ruling at the Supreme Court.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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2 Responses to “Women of the Wall Win in District Court”

  1. This means that there will be no place for the traditional orthodox women to pray at the kotel. They will not pray next to those Torah violating women who do not know who they are. Maybe the men will leave too, who knows…

  2. Ronit H Peskin says:

    Women of the Wall have a right to pray however they want. However, when there are certain standards set in a certain place, and yes, the fact that every day since the liberation of the Western Wall, and before 1948, the people who flocked to the Western Wall have been traditional men and women, who want to pray traditionally, makes a difference to what the standards are. When non traditional Jews are able to get daily numbers to the Western Wall in as great numbers as Orthodox Jews and Traditional jews, then maybe it might make sense for them to claim that they have an equal say. But its a very small movement, in comparison to huge amounts of people in Israel that are traditional or traditionally minded, and even if they're not observant themselves, when they go to pray at the Western Wall or at any synagogue, they want it run by traditional standards. Why should a small group of American people, most of whom are here for one year, have the right to force their standards on Israelis when most secular Israelis aren't even interested in the Kotel? And if the Women of the Wall wanted to simply pray in peace, and not cause a provocation, they could pray at Robinson's Arch, a place with the same amount of holiness, just that won't cause waves. A place of prayer shouldn't be used as a place to push political agendas or stage protests- that's what the courtroom is for. The Women of the Wall, regardless of what laws state is allowed or not, are being disrespectful of the vast majority of people who want things run traditionally at the Kotel.
    http://WomenForTheWall.org <– An organization dedicated to preserving tradition at the Western Wall and making it a pleasant place for women to pray.

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