Supreme Court slams State for ignoring agreement to open Western Wall to women and non-Orthodox Jews

Women of the Wall received a major boost today as Israel’s Supreme Court rebuked the State for not implementing its own plan to create a pluralistic prayer section of the Western Wall.

In an unusual motion, the Court granted petitioners including Women of the Wall, represented Orly Erez-Likhovski, Director of the Legal Department of the Reform movement, three weeks to file a petition addressing the government’s failure to implement the plan negotiated by several streams of progressive Judaism and Women of the Wall with former Cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblitt.

That plan, approved by the government last January, enabled the Israeli government to open a currently inaccessible section on the southern part of the Western Wall for prayer not under the supervision of the Western Wall rabbi.

This morning, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein blasted the state for its failure to act regarding arrangements for prayer at the Western Wall in open defiance of the Mandelblitt agreement.

Rubinstein said that the Wall as it is currently managed represents not the will of the majority in Israel but a small minority of the population. This failure, he added, was due only to “an article in a Haredi newspaper.”

“Enough is enough,” said Justice Miriam Naor, the Supreme Court president, criticizing the state prosecutor for defending the government’s “foot-dragging on various occasions in the last eight months, since the government approved the plan.”

“Do you expect us to extract the chestnuts from the fire for you?” Naor asked, using a Hebrew term for performing a difficult task.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Western Wall Rabbi and the head of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, that today’s petition, originally filed in 2013, before negotiations with Mendelblit opened, who has presented obstacle after obstacle in the implementation of the agreement, was present at the court hearing today.

Anat Hoffman, Chair of Women of the Wall attended wearing her  prayer shawl.

“We are gratified that the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, has accepted out long-held argument that the Western Wall cannot be held hostage by a minority sect,” Hoffman said. “Today, the Court issued a warning to the Israeli government, saying that it will intervene if the government refuses to implement its own decision.”

“They actually used the term ‘for God’s sake’,” she said, “ to demand that the government implement its decision to have a pluralistic plaza right next to the traditional plaza where women, Reform and Conservative Jews can pray as is their custom.

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