Cemetery sign: Men - right, women - left

Screens separating between sexes installed near grave of Zvhil Hasidic dynasty's rebbe in Jerusalem cemetery located near Supreme Court, Knesset. 'Rule of law in Israel is being threatened by religious radicalization,' says Hiddush association

Visitors arriving at the Givat Ram cemetery in Jerusalem recently have been greeted by screens separating between men and women. Signs placed on the site instructed men to enter from the right side, and women – from the left.


The screens were installed near the grave of the first rebbe of Zvhil Hasidic dynasty, Rabbi Gedalia Moshe Goldman, who died in 1949.

A Jerusalem Municipality official said in response that an order had been issued to take down the screens.


The Givat Ram cemetery is located at the foot of the Supreme Court and on the road leading to the Knesset. The Zvhil rebbe's grave has turned into a pilgrimage center in recent years, but women arriving at the site have been asked to avoid being present at the place at the same time as men.


A visit to the site indicates that a lot of thought was put into the segregation, from the stairs leading to the rebbe's grave, to the grave itself on which a screen made out of tin has been placed.


Sex segregation at Givat Ram cemetery
Sex segregation at Givat Ram cemetery

The Givat Ram cemetery is relatively small. Burial began at the site in 1948. The Zvhil rebbe's followers believe that anyone praying at the site on a Monday, Thursday and the following Monday will reach salvation.


Both the Knesset and the Supreme Court have been required in recent years to deal with a law banning sex segregation. Several battles have been waged in the capital itself, including over men-only or women-only pavements and segregation on buses, after many women were ordered to sit in the back.


Rebbe's grave
Rebbe's grave


Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz, secretary of the Yerushalmim faction in the Jerusalem City Council, commented on the issue: "Segregation between men and women in the public space is not obliged by the Halacha, and is definitely wrong when it is done in a one-sided manner and against the law.


"There is a wave of construction and development in places identified as tombs of the just, and there must be supervision and a public discourse on the matter."


'No one has right to take over territory'

Attorney Rabbi Uri Regev, CEO of the Hiddush - Freedom of Religion for Israel association, called on the authorities to destroy the screens. "It is very symbolic that forbidden separation between women and men is taking place right under the nose of the Supreme Court and Knesset," he said.


"This illustrates just how threatened the rule of law in Israel is by the phenomena of religious radicalization and how urgent it is to put an end to what is taking place in this cemetery."


Rabbi Regev added that "the cemetery is a public area where segregation between men and women is prohibited under the law, and no one has the right to take over this territory and set separate areas on it. The separating fences must be torn down, and it should be checked who was responsible for approving so much work at a site on one of the most sensitive areas in the country."


The Jerusalem Municipality offered the

following comment: "The Municipality did not approve any plan which includes separation. As part of the building permit given to the contractor, the Municipality demanded that the entire construction around the grave be taken down, including screens and separations. The building supervision department is monitoring the contractor's work in a bid to ensure that it is performed as approved."



פרסום ראשון: 12.06.13, 13:48
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