Tel Aviv District Court Judge Kobi Vardi on Sunday said during a hearing on the petition against the Tel Aviv municipality’s decision to ban an event that separated men and women that “there is no reason not to keep the event separate,” Ha’aretz reported.
The hearing resulted from a petition submitted by the Association for the True and Complete Redemption, a moshichist (messianic) group affiliated with Chabad. The group claims that the approval for the event, “Waiting for Moshiach,” which is scheduled for Monday, received municipal approval long ago and was recently canceled due to political pressure.
Judge Vardi suggested that the Tel Aviv municipality cancel its decision to forbid the separate-sexes event, and interrupted the hearing to allow the municipality to consult on the matter.
The judge criticized the municipality for not holding a proper hearing on canceling the association’s event, and for banning the event too late. The judge also rejected the claims of the Israel Women’s Network and other organizations that wished to join the discussion, telling them: “Keep your claims for more important cases. It’s a community that observe Halakha and we have to respect that.”
The True and Complete Redemption Association said in court that the partition between men and women in the square would be 150 feet long, but the separation would be voluntary men who wish to could sit with women.
According to the judge, the partition was intended for a community which is identified with the association and that passersby could pass by freely.
“Everyone can go wherever he wants and their desire to build a partition must be respected,” Judge Vardi stressed. “I do not understand why the event should not be conducted in a way that they (the association) want.”
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai announced last Monday that he would not allow separation between the sexes in the city’s public space, based on an opinion of the Attorney General—an Orthodox Jew—who determined that the municipality has the authority to ban gender separation in an event that takes place with its approval.
Some three weeks ago, according to Ha’aretz, the Israel Women’s Network approached the Tel Aviv municipality and Attorney Dina Silber, deputy attorney general in charge of the struggle against the exclusion of women, demanding that gender segregation be prevented at the Chabad group’s event.
According to the women’s lobby, producing such a performance in a public space belonging to all the city’s residents, without women on stage and with gender segregation, “violates the value of equality and discriminates against women.”