Women who pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem can wear tallitot and tefillin, despite a standing order by police that sought to prevent the practice.
So ruled a Jerusalem court Wednesday, potentially altering the status quo at Judaism's holiest site dramatically.
Judge Moshe Sobel of Jerusalem's District Court said police were misinterpreting a 2003 Supreme Court ruling that recommended -- but did not order -- women who pray at the wall to desist from wearing tallitot and tefillin. Police had interpreted that 2003 ruling to mean that any woman wearing the prayer instruments at the Kotel could be arrested.
According to the Times of Israel, Judge Sobel wrote:
“The conclusion in the ruling is not phrased as an order directed at the Women of the Wall, but as a recommendation,” Sobel wrote in the decision, and the ruling “did not ban the Women of the Wall from praying in any particular place.”
The judge's ruling also means that women wearing tallitot and tefillin need not pray only at Robinson's Arch, which had been the longstanding practice.
The issue came to a head on April 11, when five women from a group called Women of the Wall were arrested by police for disturbing the peace. They are engaged in a longstanding protest at the kotel against the Orthodox authorities there who have prevented them from praying in the fashion they wish.
The Jerusalem police or the state prosecutor can now appeal Judge Sobel's ruling to the Supreme Court. N