Our Struggle

Newest Legal Decision Regarding WOW (link)

Israel Police v. Lesley Sachs, Bonnie Riva Ras, Sylvie Rozenbaum, R. Valerie Stessin, & Sharona Kramer

Judge Sobel’s decision states:

  • The 2003 Decision (link) 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.
    • WOW has not been violating the 2003 Decision
    • WOW did not violate the Law of Holy Places (link), in which visitors at the Kotel are to pray according to the “local custom”
    • “Local custom” needs to be interpreted with National and pluralistic implications, not solely Orthodox ones
    • WOW may have disturbed public order, but did not endanger public peace
    • There should, therefore, be no limitations placed on the accused women.

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

What’s next?

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.