Photo: Israel Religious Action Center
Segregation at entrance to Western Wall
Photo: Israel Religious Action Center

Complaints of sex segregation near Kotel

Religious Action Center urges Western Wall rabbi to remove screens separating between men and women before security checks, claims ushers hired to impose segregation on buses leaving holy site

The Israel Religious Action Center has turned to Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch and Jerusalem District Commander Niso Shaham, claiming sex segregation has been taking place at the entrance to the holy site.


According to the IRAC, the Reform Movement's legal advocacy arm, this kind of separation between men and women in the public domain is illegal.


The IRAC also claimed that while sending a letter on the matter to Commander Shaham, the Center learned that ushers had been hired to impose segregation on buses leaving the holy site – seating men in the front and women in the back.


The Western Wall rabbi's office clarified that it did not send the ushers, and that in any event – Commander Shaham replied to the Reform Movement's appeal, stating that the matter would be handled immediately.


In its appeal on the sex segregation at the entrance to the site, the IRAC wrote: "According to pictures and testimonies obtained by us, a screen separating between women and men has been placed before the security check from the Dung Gate entrance, and this separation continues until the upper Western Wall plaza.


"This separation is clearly illegal. There is no justification for separation in a public crossing, both before the Western Wall area and after the security check.


"The existence of separation between men and women on a city's streets is an illegal demand, which violates the right to equality and the right to dignity, and even contradicts the High Court ruling and the State's commitment to the court."


The IRAC's representative, Attorney Einat Horvitz, concluded the letter by threatening to go to court if the segregation is not canceled immediately and the ushers' work is not stopped.


'Western Wall not a place for disputes'

The Western Wall rabbi's office said in response that the holy site has four entrances – three mixed ones and one with segregation. "In light of the security need for extensive checks at the entrance to the Western Wall plaza, a long line plods along the only segregated gate on holidays, and therefore the separating screen is longer.


"This has been the custom for many years. Anyone wishing to enter in a non-segregated way can use the three other entrances, and on busy days another mixed gate is opened."


Rabbi Rabinovitch added, "In the Western Wall, every Jew's home, no one is satisfied – neither the zealots of Jerusalem nor those fighting for equality. All are asked to leave their disputes outside the Western Wall plaza and enter in modesty and a feeling of partnership.


"The Western Wall is not a place for declarations and saber-rattling."



פרסום ראשון: 10.23.11, 08:36
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