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April 11, 2003 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-04-11

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

Insight

WOMEN from page 31

ZOOS ES X00

causing an uproar among other wor-
shipers who considered it a sacrilege.
Israel's Supreme Court accepted the
group's case in the summer of 1989
on condition that the group pray at
the wall without the Torah.
with one sponta-
Since then
neous exception — the group has not
used Torahs at the wall. Members
either have held prayer sessions at the
wall without the Torah or have read
from the Torah at nearby sites.
Group members say women's Torah
reading is becoming increasingly
accepted in Orthodox circles, but the
Israeli government has argued that the
group's service at the wall could threaten
public order.
In the current case, the court was rul-
ing on an appeal filed by the state to a
May 2000 decision recognizing the
group's right to hold prayer services at
the wall, and instructing the govern-
ment to make arrangements for it.

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A lawyer for the Women of the Wall
group, Frances Raday, said the court
had not backtracked on its recognition
of the women's right to pray at the wall.
But the court chose to protect the
sensitivities of other worshipers over the
right of the women to pray at the wall,
she said.
Women of the Wall consistently has
rejected proposals of alternate prayer
sites.
Though Chesler is upset with the
court's decision, she said she is skeptical
that the contingency plan will stick,
since Robinson's Arch is unlikely to be
ready for use within a year. She cited the
cost and work required to level and pre-
pare the archaeological site for public
prayer. In addition, she said, Israel's
archaeological authorities might oppose
the arrangement.
Attorney Raday has said some lawyers
and politicians believe the court ruling
may be a delaying tactic.
Even so, supporters of the group
aren't taking it lightly.
The case is a "bellwether," Pogrebin
said. "It tells us a lot about ourselves if
we can live with this injustice as a peo-
),
ple.
Rabbi Shafran urged the Women of
the Wall to focus on "the issue."
"The issue here is respect for a holy
place and respect for the traditions
that lie behind the worship that it's
associated with," he said. E.

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Naomi Segal, a JTA correspondent in
Jerusalem, contributed to this report.

4/11
2003

32

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