The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
September has seen two heartening successes for advocates of religious liberty and civil rights in Israel! Within a week, Jerusalem’s Magistrate Court prevented a section of the Western Wall being transferred to a controversial group, and our partners at the Israeli Religious Action Center (IRAC) won their first class-action lawsuit.
On September 8, the Jerusalem Magistrate Court prevented Elad-City of David Foundation, a private nonprofit, from managing the southern section of the Western Wall. The agreement to transfer this section of the Western Wall to Elad for their management had sparked fierce criticism from groups such as Women of the Wall and the Conservative Movement, who threatened to back out of negotiations with the Israeli government over the contentious prayer area. The section of the Western Wall sought by Elad included Robinson’s Arch, an area near the Kotel reserved for egalitarian worship.
The court’s ruling keeps alive the prospect of a robust, egalitarian worship section where men and women can pray together with dignity at Judaism’s holiest site. Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the director of the Israeli Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), responded to the ruling by reiterating, “We hope that now the government will act quickly to make the Western Wall and its environs into a pluralistic space that provides room for expression for all groups and streams of the Jewish people.” Their hope is our hope.
Two days later, the Jerusalem District Court ruled in favor of IRAC’s claim against the ultra-Orthodox radio station, Kol BaRama. Kol BaRama has exercised discriminatory practices against women for years, from prohibiting women from being hired, to refusing to feature women on their radio programs, to even refusing to allow women to be interviewed or call into shows.
The judge later ruled that IRAC’s client, Kolech, can claim damages, as can other women who have faced discrimination and humiliation by this radio station. We stand with our sisters and brothers in Israel fighting for women equality in all aspects of Israeli society.