Israeli high court to reconsider Wall ruling


JERUSALEM, July 17 (JTA) — Israel’s High Court of Justice has agreed to reconsider its recent decision allowing the Women of the Wall group to hold services at the Western Wall.

The decision, which also allowed the women to read aloud from the Torah and wear prayer shawls at the Wall, had prompted an outcry from fervently Orthodox politicians, who immediately proposed legislation to circumvent the ruling.

One bill calls for a seven-year jail sentence on any woman who partakes in such activities at the Wall.

Last month, the government asked the court to reconsider its May 22 decision, stating that the unanimous ruling had not fully taken into account the long-standing prayer customs at what is Judaism’s holiest site.

The state representative warned that women’s prayer services at the Wall could increase tensions and possibly lead to violence.

On Monday, the court agreed to the state’s request, saying it will hold a hearing July 30 to determine arrangements for the deliberations, including how many and which justices will preside on the panel.

Anat Hoffman, a Jerusalem city council member who is also a spokeswoman for the Women of the Wall, said it is unfortunate the court is allowing itself to be swayed by political interests.

“We are sorry this is how things turned out,” Hoffman said. “But at this point, in the Israeli political situation we see, Israeli society is not yet capable of accepting a ruling on this matter.”

Hoffman added that Women of the Wall is not averse to compromise, but would not yield in its demand for the right to pray at the Wall.

“If the symbolic territory is so important, we will be willing to offer compromises, as long as we stay at the Wall area,” she said.

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