Israeli attorney general accepts Women of the Wall court decision


(JTA) — The activist group Women of the Wall will face no more legal challenges after Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided not appeal a court decision favoring the group.

Weinstein’s office announced Monday that he would not appeal last month’s ruling by the Jerusalem District Court  that Women of the Wall were not breaking the law by conducting their monthly service. Members of the group have been routinely arrested or detained in recent months for wearing prayer shawls at the wall, a practice that prior to the ruling had been considered a violation of Israeli law requiring respect for “local custom” at the site.

Weinstein’s statement also said that Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett, of the Modern Orthodox Jewish Home party, would be formulating proposed amendments to the “local custom” law.

Bennett and Women of the Wall Chairwoman Anat Hoffman met Tuesday to discuss the proposed amendments. According to Hoffman, who said the meeting had a positive atmosphere, Bennett inquired into the group’s practices and mission. He said he had the ability to outlaw the group’s practices and would formulate the amendments in the coming month.

“We felt a feeling that he was listening to us,” Hoffman told JTA. “He heard there was a lot of interest and concern about us among world Jewry. He wants to know that it’s possible to work with us.”

In a gesture of good will, Hoffman told Bennett that the group would not read from the Torah at its upcoming service for the new Hebrew month, set to take place on Friday morning. The group had planned to read from the Torah, which it has not done in more than a decade.

In addition, Haaretz reported that Jerusalem police have decided not to interfere with Friday’s service.

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