End to exclusion of women on Mea Shearim sidewalks? The Toldot Aharon Hasidic dynasty has pledged not to send ushers to the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood's streets to impose modesty rules during the holiday of Sukkot, and not to enforce gender segregation as it has done in previous years.
In discussions held between senior haredi community members and representatives of the police and Jerusalem Municipality, the parties agreed that a safety fence would be set up to maintain order during the Simchat Beit Hashoeivah celebrations held in the area on the intermediate days of Sukkot – but not to impose segregation.
The Jerusalem Police updated Jerusalem Council Member Rachel Azaria on the developments, following her petition to the High Court of Justice against the gender segregation on the neighborhood's main street in past years and the judges' ruling that authorities must prevent this situation.
"There will be no separation between men and women," the police stated in a letter to Azaria's lawyer, Attorney Dr. Aviad Hacohen. "The Israel Police and Jerusalem Municipality will have representatives in the area to guarantee that the details of the agreement are being upheld."
The parties agreed on the following outline, according to the police: "The road and sidewalks will be open to the entire public (apart from an 8-meter section at the exit from a yeshiva); there will be no ushers during the event; a 2.2-meter (7.2 feet) fence will be set up on the southern side of the road.
"The fence will be built for safety purposes only. It will not be covered with jute cloth or any other cover preventing or blocking the view from both sides of the fence…
"The event will be held between 9 pm-12:30 am. At the end of the event the fence will be dismantled, and reinstalled starting 8 pm the next day."
Attorney Hacohen welcomed the decision. "We hope the police keep their promise to enforce the law, so that Jerusalem can restore its role as the capital of all its residents, both men and women, allowing them to rejoice together in the city streets during the Sukkot holiday."