Posted in: Women of the Wall, Letters To Readers
Published on Jan 12, 2017 by Phyllis Chesler
Our victory in the Israeli Supreme Court
This is my group--the ORIGINAL Women of the Wall--and we have been struggling for our rights as both Jews and women to pray in a woman-only group at the Western Wall (the Kotel) in Jerusalem for the last 28 years.
Yes, its' been 28 years and counting.
What we did that first time was, perhaps, the equivalent of nuns officiating at Mass in the Vatican. It sent shock waves throughout the Jewish, religious, and feminist world. In my opinion, it is psychologically empowering for both men and women when women publicly approach the Divine.
Were we attempting this struggle for equal rights within religion in any other country in the Middle East, by now, we'd have been beheaded or at least jailed for life. It is a credit to Israel that such things do not happen there--even when women are viewed as taking forbidden liberties. It is to Israel's credit that the Israeli Supreme Court has rendered such a decision.
We have often been confused with the Women of the Wall and, indeed, we were all once members but we parted company when we chose to remain at the Kotel, and as a woman-only prayer group in the woman's section. Others chose to fight to pray at Robinson's Arch in a mixed-gender egalitarian prayer quorum or minyan. These issues are clarified below and in a book I published, together with Rivka Haut: Women of the Wall: Claiming Sacred Ground at Judaism's Holy Site.
We are represented by the brilliant lawyer, Susan Weiss, of the Center for Justice for Women without whom this victory would not have been possible. However, the fight is far from over. Please share in our joy and consider partnering with us in all the ways that you can.
I have been privileged to work with truly great women: The late Rivka Haut z"l, whose idea it was to pray for the first time in 1988; the late Bonna Haberman, who became the spiritual leader of our struggle in Israel--and with so many others. Please meet, Dr. Shulamit Magnus, below.
From Phyllis, in gratitude to both God and humanity.
A Momentous Ruling.
These were the words of Shulamit Magnus reacting to yesterday's Supreme Court Ruling.
Shulamit Magnus, Professor of Jewish history and a founder of Women of the Wall, is the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case to enforce the rights of Jewish women to full religious expression at the Kotel.
Shulamit and the other plaintiffs thank you for your part in supporting Original Women of the Wall and for bringing this ruling to light. This Momentous Ruling came about because of the case brought to trial by Original Women of the Wall. We thank you for your support.
In the Ruling Released Yesterday, The Israeli Supreme Court Held:
- Robinson's Arch does not constitute "access" to the Western Wall as it is now.
- The Kotel Administrator and other state agencies have 30 days to show "good cause" why women may not read the Torah at the Kotel
- Effective immediately, women are not to be subjected to body searches for "contraband" by the employees of the western Wall Heritage Foundation
Only Original Women of the Wall has stayed true to the goal of women's rights to read from the Torah at the Western Wall.
Only Original Women of the Wall has resisted and rejected all deals to appropriate the rights and cause of Jewish women and trade them for a different cause or a different site; to subsume women's rights in any other cause, or to compromise our independence and autonomy. We have pursued this case against tremendous forces and resources arrayed against us. We are delighted with our achievement for Jewish women.
Dr. Susan Weiss, the director of the Center for Women’s Justice and the lawyer representing members of the Original Women of the Wall who brought the original High Court petition stated, “The Center for Women’s Justice is overjoyed by our landmark decision today in the Supreme Court. It’s a major victory not only for our clients, Original Women of the Wall, but for all citizens of Israel. Today’s ruling is a significant game-changer because it holds our democracy to a higher standard.”
In order for these efforts of paramount importance to continue, we need your support.
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