WOW Chairperson Anat Hoffman: “We look to the Supreme Court to stop the ultra-Orthodox monopoly of the Western Wall. An extremist minority has hijacked the Kotel in 67, and made it into an ultra-Orthodox shul. We want to reclaim the Kotel for everyone.”
Following months of delay, the Supreme Court will hear WOW and fellow organizations’ petition this Thursday, Aug 31stat 9am. Justices Naor, Meltzer and Danziger will be presiding.
In a 29-page-document WOW states that any solution should be according to the main principals of the Kotel Agreement:
1. A respectable and accessible prayer plaza which will be an integral part of the Kotel legally (as will be stated in the Holy Places regulations), physically (common entry and visibility from the Kotel’s upper plaza) and publicly.
2. The nature of the new plaza would be secured in the Holy Places regulations, which will state the rules of behavior in the plaza.
3. An independent governing body, separate from the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which will include WOW representatives.
4. Proper budget towards the installation and maintenance of the plaza.
As an alternative to the implementation of the Kotel Agreement, a third prayer plaza in the main (northern) plaza could be allocated, in which WOW worshipers will be able to pray according to their customs, without any harassment and disruption.
The current position of the government gravely infringes upon the constitutional rights of WOW – the right for equality, human dignity, freedom of religion and worship in holy places.
The court will also hear WOW’s petition regarding disruptions and harassment during prayer services and seek the court’s remedy for ongoing whistling, shrieking and physical violence.
WOW Chairperson Anat Hoffman: “We look to the Supreme Court to stop the ultra-Orthodox monopoly of the Western Wall. An extremist minority has hijacked the Kotel in ‘67, and made it into an ultra-Orthodox shul. We want to reclaim the Kotel for everyone.”
IRAC’s Director of Legal Dept, Attorney Orly Erez-Likhovski, representing the petitioners: “The government is asking us to exercise our freedom of religion in a discriminatory, excluding and humiliating manner – far from the current plaza and the public eye, behind fences, with no representation in the governing body. We are asking the court to reject this position, and declare that all Jews are entitled to a respectable and equal treatment at Judaism’s holiest site – such as was envisioned by the Kotel agreement.”
About Women of the Wall:
WOW is a group of religious women from all denominations (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform) who pray at the Western Wall every “Rosh Hodesh” (beginning of the month) and have been fighting for 28 years for equal rights for women in praying at the Western Wall. The group wishes to pray according to Jewish Law (Halacha), in a group and out loud; to read from a Torah scroll; and to put on tefillin and tallit, at the section known as the Women’s Section of the Western Wall.
Following a 3-year-negotiation, the Kotel Agreement was approved in government on January 31, 2016, by a 15 to 5 majority. The agreement stated that a third section be established, designated for Women of the Wall and pluralistic movements’ prayers. The agreement was suspended by a cabinet vote on June 25th, 2017. The Supreme Court hearing of WOW petition is scheduled for August 31, 2017.