Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In Israel, A Victory and a Setback For Women's Prayer At Western Wall

In Israel today, proponents of equal rights for women at the Western Wall won a victory in the High Court of Justice. Haaretz reports that the Court ordered an end to special body searches of women suspected of smuggling in Torah scrolls for women to read at the Wall-- a practice strongly opposed by the Orthodox rabbi in charge of the Western Wall space. The decision is in response to a petition to the High Court to allow women to bring in their own Torah scrolls.  It was filed by four women who are members of the split -off "Original Women of the Wall" who want egalitarian prayer in the women's section of the Wall rather than a separate mixed prayer space for men and women that was negotiated by the larger "Women of the Wall" group.  The Court also gave religious authorities 30 days to explain why women cannot pray as they wish in the women's section of the wall, or alternatively to allow them to pray in another area that provides similar proximity to the Western Wall.

Meanwhile The Forward reported Monday that the East Jerusalem Development Authority took down a sign pointing to the existing egalitarian prayer space in the Robinson's Arch area near the Wall after an Orthodox Jewish group complained that it had been put up without a proper permit.