The Western Wall has become the greatest metaphor for the exclusion of women in the public sphere in Israel- grabbing national and international attention. The Administrator of the Western Wall, appointed by the Prime Minister and the Attorney General, who approves of the discriminatory regulation, must be held accountable for discriminatory regulations in the public space in Israel. Women of the Wall is engaged in an international and national campaign to lobby Israel’s leaders and the government to move towards change.
Women of the Wall continue to pray in the women’s section of the Western Wall and use prayer and peaceful resistance to create change on the ground at the Kotel.
Latest Legal Decision Regarding WOW
Israel Police v. Lesley Sachs, Bonnie Riva Ras, Sylvie Rozenbaum, R. Valerie Stessin, & Sharona Kramer Download Court Decisions
Judge Sobel’s decision states:
- WOW has not been violating the 2003 Supreme Court Decision regarding women’s prayer at the Kotel
- WOW did not violate the Law of Holy Places, in which visitors at the Kotel are to pray according to the “local custom”
- “Local custom” of the Kotel should to be interpreted with National and pluralistic implications, not solely Orthodox ones
- WOW did not endanger the public peace
- The 2003 Supreme Court Decision was misinterpreted. The decision did not…
- Apply criminal violations to women
- Ban WOW from the Kotel
- Require WOW to pray at Robinson’s Arch, only recommended it.
- There should, therefore, be no limitations placed on Women of the Wall
Responses to the Decision
“The fact that the District Court adopted the ruling of the Magistrates Court bears great weight, and this shows a changing legal reality which will effect any future arrests of Women of the Wall. There is no doubt that this decision is crying out and calling to the authorities to change their approach to the prayers of Women of the Wall….The most important aspect of this ruling is the fact that Women of the Wall’s prayer in the women’s section of the Western Wall does not violate the ‘local custom’ and therefore does not imply a reasonable doubt of violation of the Law of Holy Places. The court has rejected any reasonable cause for a policy of repeated detainment and arrests of Women of the Wall by police.” –Adv. David Barhoum, Legal Representative for Women of the Wall.
“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. 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.” –Anat Hoffman, Chairwoman for Women of the Wall
The one thing that women are still not allowed to do is bring in and read from a Sefer Torah. Despite the important District Court ruling, there is a regulation from 2010 that forbids women from bringing a Torah into the Kotel Plaza. This is the current legal roadblock to free prayer.
In furtherance of its responsibility to pursue all significant opportunities to realize WOW’s mission, the WOW board decided enter negotiations with the Prime Minister – through Avichai Mendelblitt, Cabinet Secretary, for the necessary requirements for a third, pluralistic and equal section of the Western Wall. Unlike the current men and women’s sections, this section would not be administered by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz. The pluralistic section would be fully integrated, equipped as a prayer space and allow for both egaliatarian and women’s prayer. Until such a section has been completely to our satisfaction, we continue to pray in the women’s section each month.