The Women of the Wall (WoW) organization has announced plans for a women’s tefilla at the Kosel on rosh chodesh Sivan, erev Shabbos, during which they will wear tallis and tefilin in line with the recent decision by the Jerusalem District Court clearing the way for such action.
The organization has since released the following statement on its Facebook page:
It is a shameful day for the Israeli judicial system.
Attorney General Weinstein released a statement today in which he rejects the 24.4.13 District Court decision supporting Women of the Wall’s right to freedom of religion at the Western Wall. In a meeting with Rabbi Rabinowitz, Chair of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, and Minister of Religious Services Naftali Bennett, his Vice Minister, Rabbi Ben Dahan and the states attorney, it was decided that the Attorney General will not appeal the District Court decision to the Supreme Court, though he also does not state that he accepts the ruling. His solution: to return to the 1981 addition to the law of holy places, which forbids citizens to pray in ways that are “contrary to the local custom”. The term “local custom” has failed to be defined in the 22 years since passing the addendum to the law, thus the need for legal clarity. Minister Bennett has proposed that he would like to reexamine this addendum, and introduce amendments to the law.
Women of the Wall urge the Attorney General to act and lead in accordance to legal proceedings of the State of Israel. The most recent legal ruling, if it is not challenged in the Supreme Court, should set precedent for women’s right to pray freely, according to their belief, on the women’s side of the Western Wall.
The statement continued, explaining that the next test will be in a few days’ time when the Women of the Wall gather for their Rosh Hodesh service on May 10. Taken at its word, the attorney general’s statement is quite literally a return to square one.
END OF WoW STATEMENT
Following consultations on the matter on Monday, 26 Iyar, the attorney general’s office released a statement that WoW may indeed hold a prayer service at the Kosel, with tallis and tefilin, stating doing so is not a violation of the law.
Present for the consultation were Minister of Religious Affairs (Bayit Yehudi) Naftali Bennett, his deputy minister (Bayit Yehudi) Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, Rav of the Kosel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, and other senior relevant officials.
The announcement shows that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has changed his opinion, now backing the district court’s ruling. The state has decided not to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court as planned; lifting what appears to be a last legal barrier for the WoW rosh chodesh tefilla services at the Kosel, in the ezras noshim.
There are different opinions in the frum world surrounding the planned tefilla event, with some of the opinion that the machlokes should be avoided. Others are adamant in their determination to prevent such events from taking place. It appears there will be a large police presence on hand to maintain order as the tefilla service will without a doubt enjoy prominent coverage by the media.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)