Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett have reportedly decided not to appeal a stunning Jerusalem District Court ruling that Women of the Wall do not violate Kotel (Western Wall) custom when they pray at the holy site wearing tallits (prayer shawls) and tefillin (phylacteries). Instead, Weinstein decided to revert the Kotel's status to be governed by an old 1981 law – effectively banning women's prayer groups by fiat when he knew he could not win in court.
Last updated 5:19 pm CDT
Government Decides To Circumvent Court Ruling, Effectively Ban Women's Prayer Groups At Kotel By Fiat
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Arutz Sheva is reporting that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett have decided not to appeal a stunning Jerusalem District Court ruling that Women of the Wall do not violate Kotel (Western Wall) custom when they pray at the holy site wearing tallits (prayer shawls) and tefillin (phylacteries). The court also ruled that the women’s group was not disturbing the peace by doing so, putting the onus for any disturbance on haredi rioters – not the women they riot against.
With Weinstein and Bennett when the decision was the haredi rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinowitz.
“I call to the Minister of Religious Services to quickly follow through with his decision to refresh Kotel prayer regulations and establish updated ones in order to maintain the Western Wall status quo of unity and adherence to common [haredi] tradition, as befitting this period in advance of the momentous Giving of the Torah on the Festival of Shavuot, the monumental event of national unity. The Western Wall must never turn into a forum for dispute and antagonism," Rabinowitz said.
But there is more to the story.
What Weinstein and Bennett have decided to do is to revert the Kotel back to its status under an old 1981 law.
According to Women of the Wall, here is what that means:
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 [haredi] Rabbi Rabinowitz, Chair of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, and Minister of Religious Services Naftali Bennet, 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 Bennet 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.
Hundreds of brave women will continue this struggle with Women of the Wall at the Kotel for Rosh Hodesh Sivan morning prayers on May 10, 2013 at 7AM. Women of the Wall invite all those who believe in equal rights and freedom of expression in Israel to join them, en masse at the Kotel. Jews around the world are encouraged to continue their great contribution to the struggle for pluralism and women's civil rights in Israel. Together we must keep up the pressure and demand that our voices be heard!