Jerusalem District Court Rules on Women of the Wall

Leaders of the Reform Movement issued a statement today about a recent ruling from the Jerusalem District Court that determined that recent detention of Women of the Wall members for their activities at the Western Wall was unjustified and for denying local police requests for restraining orders against the group. Haaretz has more on the ruling and its implications.

URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs said of the ruling,

We were especially pleased to hear the judge state that the Law of Holy Places, which gives visitors to the Kotel the opportunity to pray according to ‘local custom,’ does not mandate that these be Orthodox customs. We expect local authorities to respect the court’s decision and let non-Orthodox Jews pray at this holy site according to their own customs without fear of police detention or restraint.

Other Reform Jewish leaders echoed Rabbi Jacobs’ sentiments of encouragement. Said Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, executive director of Women of Reform Judaism,

Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) is optimistic about the court’s decision today to guarantee the right of women to worship freely at this most holy site. Having recently joined Women of the Wall for a Rosh Chodesh service, we were deeply troubled by the presence of police who were not there to protect, but rather to intimidate and detain. Jews all over the world recognize the significance of the Kotel and no one should have the power to disenfranchise others who pray differently than they do.

And Barbara Kavadias, acting director of ARZA:

ARZA is encouraged that the lower court ruling has been upheld by the district court. We hope the local police find this sufficient not to carry this appeal any higher. We believe this ruling enhances Natan Sharansky’s proposal to provide for egalitarian prayer at an expanded Kotel site and look forward to the day when all people are free to pray at the Kotel according to their own customs.”