Groundbreaking Precedent set in Court for Women of the Wall: Women’s Prayer is Not a Public Disturbance

April 11, 2013 

Five women were arrested today during the monthly Rosh Hodesh prayer of Women of the Wall. The women, Lesley Sachs, Director of Women of the Wall, Bonnie Ras, board member, Sylvie Rozenbaum, Rabbi Valerie Stessin, and Sharona Kramer, were arrested for wearing prayer shawls and singing out loud. In total there were 300 women in attendance for the prayer, and at least fifty were wearing prayer shawls. This is the first time that singing aloud was included in the causes for police detention.

After being held for questioning, the women were taken to the HaShalom Court to receive judgment. Police accused the women of disturbing the public order and requested that the judge ban them from the Western Wall for the following three Rosh Hodesh prayer dates. After seeing all evidence, Judge Sharon Larry Bavly stated that there was no cause for arresting the women. In a groundbreaking decision, the judge declared that Women of the Wall are not disturbing the public order with their prayers. She said that the disturbance is created by those publicly opposing the women’s prayer, and Women of the Wall should not be blamed for others’ behavior. The women were released immediately, with no conditions.

Throughout the ordeal Members of Knesset Tamara Zandberg and Michal Rozin were with Women of the Wall, to bear witness. Rozin said, “I think this place should be equal for everybody, every Jew, women and men.” Zandberg stated, “We are here to show our identification and solidarity with Women of the Wall. They have been praying here for years now… and we will continue to come here every month, until this place is free.”

“The judge said today what we have been saying for many years: women’s prayer, with tallit and even with Torah, is not a disturbance,” said Lesley Sachs. She continued, “We hope that the police will think twice before arresting women mid-prayer at the Western Wall again.”

For nearly twenty-five years Women of the Wall has continued to fight for religious freedom and women’s rights at the Western Wall. As Women of the Wall, our central mission is to achieve the social and legal recognition of our right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall.

Press Contact: Shira Pruce, Director of Public Relations +972 (0)546898351

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