Wall Update

Women of the Wall update: Limmud 2000

Participants at the Limmud www.limmud.org conference in Nottingham over the December 2000 holidays heard an update on the situation from activist Anat Hoffman, delivered in her inimitable feisty style.

"We won," concluded Anat, "the minute they entered the twilight zone."

"On 22nd May 2000 three judges in a unanimous decision declared that a society is measured by how it deals with its minorities- this "minority" (women) represents 51% of the population and therefore the 49% "majority" should abide by it."

The real reason for the official opposition to the rights of the Women of the Wall to pray aloud had emerged during the hearing: it was not the offence caused to others, but because "the wall listens!- the wall is offended!". "We won," concluded Anat, "the minute they entered the twilight zone."

However, Anat continued, the government convened and made a decision to ask the court to reconsider, thereby making legal history in that never before has an Israeli court been asked to reconsider a decision where there was no minority dissenting judgment. (To an Anglo Saxon legal tradition of separation of powers, it seems strange for the legislative branch to have the power to ask the judicial branch to reconsider its decision, whether or not the judgment was unanimous).

Now, a panel of 9 judges, consisting of the entire Supreme Court bench, will reconsider the whole matter because of the vast repercussions.

Previously, the women had been offered "alternative" walls, including Robinson's Arch. This offer was dropped when the women accepted it, on condition that disabled access was created. The courts held that this condition was reasonable, but it was opposed by the archaeologists as construction of handrails would damage this important archaeological site.

This offer has now been revived.