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.