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Israeli court orders government to resolve Women of the Wall case

JERUSALEM, March 4 (JTA) — In an apparent bid to resolve the Women of the Wall issue once and for all, Israel’s Supreme Court has granted the government 90 days to show “just cause” why women who wish to pray at the Western Wall cannot do so as a group. The court ruling Tuesday denied a government request for a 60-day postponement to give Elyakim Rubinstein, the newly appointed attorney general, an opportunity to acquaint himself with the long- standing court case. The Women of the Wall, an Orthodox-led group of about 50 women across the religious spectrum, petitioned the court eight years ago for the right to pray aloud at the Western Wall. Representatives of the group were clearly pleased by the court’s refusal to grant the government yet another extension. Anat Hoffman, a vocal member of the group, said, “We are happy because once and for all the government will have to show good cause why it has consistently silenced women’s prayer at Judaism’s holiest site.” “If the reason is the violence that ensues when women pray at the Wall, then it’s the bullies who must be dealt with,” she added, referring to the often-violent response from fervently Orthodox men to their prayers. Hoffman dismissed the government’s request for more time as a delaying tactic. “We told the judges that we’ve been in court for eight years and that we cannot wait any longer. Time is passing by, and we still cannot raise our voices in prayer.” Nili Arad, director general of the Justice Ministry, said the government’s request for a postponement was based purely on practical considerations. Noting that Rubinstein had made a special visit to the Wall last week to assess the situation, Arad said, “We sought the postponement because we understand the importance of this very complex issue. “Sometimes a speedy resolution isn’t the best resolution.”

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