In a groundbreaking ruling, the Jerusalem District Court upheld an earlier decision of the magistrate’s court that women who wear prayer shawls (“tallitot” in Hebrew) at the Western Wall Plaza are not contravening “local custom” or causing a public disturbance, and therefore should not be arrested.
The issue of equal prayer rights at the site has risen to the forefront of public debate in recent months due to the frequent arrests of women participating in the prayer services that the Women of the Wall activist group holds there.
Women of the Wall chairwoman Anat Hoffman said the ruling “liberated the Western Wall for all the Jewish people.”
“This is a critically important story for reclaiming Judaism, redefining our values and reclaiming the Wall,” she said. “Women of the Wall have really achieved something for Israeli society and the entire Jewish world.”
On April 11, five women who had donned tallitot during the group’s monthly prayer service were arrested and brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. Judge Sharon Larry-Bavly ruled at the time that there was no cause for arresting the women, and that the Women of the Wall’s prayer services did not create a public disturbance.