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February 04, 1994 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-02-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Israel

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GAINS page 31

by the time Rabbi Lau ran for
the national post of Chief Rab-
bi last year, the inclusion of
women in the elective assembly
was taken for granted.
"The ultra-Orthodox groups
are capable of much greater
flexibility than they would have
us believe," concluded Rabbi
Regev, whose movement has
now two discrimination suits in
progress against the Religious
Affairs Ministry.
Ironically, however, it was
women from the Conservative
and Reform trends who suffered
a setback on the very same day
when the High Court rejected
the petition by a group known

"The Orthodox
groups are capable
of much greater
flexibility than they
would have us
believe."

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as the Women of the Wall to
confirm their right to wear tal-
litot and read from the Torah at
the Western Wall (which the lo-
cal religious authority has re-
fused to permit).
Citing the sensitive status of
the Wall as a place holy to Jews
the world over, Justice Men-
achem Elon ruled that prayers
there should be conducted ac-
cording to a "common denomi-
nator," which he defined as "the
local convention that has pre-
vailed there for generations."
In a dissenting opinion, Jus-
tice Shlomo Levin countered
that "one must not erect a total
prohibition on the conduct of
prayer ceremonies at the West-
ern Wall just because some
groups are opposed to them."

But in what may turn out to
be the key opinion, Chief Jus-
tice Meir Shamgar, who con-
curred with the "common-
denominator" argument, also
recommended that the govern-
ment appoint a committee to ex-
plore the problem in greater
depth and propose a solution
that would honor the principle
of free access to the Wall while
avoiding any offense to the sen-
sitivities of worshipers.
"Justice Shamgar essential-
ly recommended that the
Women of the Wall pursue their
point with the government,"
Rabbi Regev explained, "while
hinting that he might change
his ruling if they don't get sat-
isfaction from that quarter."
Even Justice Elon conceded
that "the substantial change in
the status and role of women in
the present century...may, in
the course of time, leave its
mark — even on this complex
and sensitive matter of prayer
groups."
But he, nonetheless, felt that
"the Western Wall is not the
place for a 'war' of ideas and
deeds over this issue."
Meanwhile, unaware of the
High Court ruling, a number of
women from the National
Board of Hadassah were treat-
ed to a lesson in local manners
last week when they ap-
proached the Wall carrying
their own Torah and were ver-
bally and physically attacked
by other worshipers before be-
ing escorted from the area by
police.
"We are not radical mili-
tants," said an angry Barbara
Goldstein of the Hadassah
group.
But Ze'ev Rosenberg, direc-
tor of the Religious Affairs Min-
istry, showed little sympathy
for the offended guests, ex-
plaining only that their arrival
at the Wall had constituted
"contempt of court."

learning center;
__

, „

-

Jerusalem (JTA) — Israeli
and Palestinian negotiators
were busily engaged in
marathon sessions in Cairo
this week in an effort to
bridge the gaps separating
them before a crucial
weekend meeting in
Switzerland between For-
eign Minister Shimon Peres
and Palestine Liberation
Organization Chairman
Yassir Arafat.
Mr. Arafat was himself'

present in Cairo as his top
financial adviser, Ahmed
Karia, headed the PLO side
in the negotiations.
Uri Savir, director-general
of Israel's Foreign Ministry,
and Yoel Singer, the min-
istry's legal adviser, led the
Israeli team.
The two sides hastily con-
vened in the Egyptian capi-
tal. But by midweek there
was no end to the deadlock
in sight.

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