Mea Shearim 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Jerusalem branch of a nationwide university women’s organization is due to
hold a march on Wednesday, the eve of Simchat Torah, to protest an enforced
separation between men and women on streets in Mea She’arim after the High Court
of Justice slightly extended the route of the march over police
During the hearing, the court also extracted a formal
statement by the state’s attorney, Osnat Mandel, to the effect that “the state
agrees that in an obviously public area such as city streets, it is prohibited
to separate on the basis of gender.”
The court heard two petitions on
Tuesday, one by municipal councilors Rachel Azarya and Laura Verton and
Jerusalem Movement, and the other by the Jerusalem branch of the campus
organization, Aleh, the Meretz Party and its representatives in the
The petitioners of the first complaint, represented by
Attorney Aviad Hacohen, demanded that the police take action to remove
barriers and so-called ushers who were responsible for seeing to it that
women walked on separate sides of the street.
Both had been stationed
during the Succot holiday by selfappointed organizers among the haredi
in Mea She’arim.
The second petition, represented by Yifat Sollel, called
on the court to overrule police restrictions and allow the marchers
the segregation of the streets to walk along Rehov Strauss as far as
Hashabbat, which marks the beginning of Rehov Mea She’arim. Police had
that the marchers go only as far as the Histadrut building on Rehov
some 200 meters short of Kikar Hashabbat.
On Monday night, in response to
the petition by Hacohen, the state informed the court that it intended
discussions with haredi leaders to persuade them to voluntarily remove
barriers and the ushers. At the beginning of the hearing on Tuesday,
informed the court that the talks had succeeded and that the barriers
were to be removed immediately.
However, before Hacohen agreed to the
court’s suggestion that he withdraw his petition, he demanded that the
make a formal declaration that setting up barriers and ushers in order
segregation between men and women was illegal in principle and not only
specific case at hand.
Mandel cautiously and somewhat hesitantly agreed
to make such a statement.
Meanwhile, in the discussion over the march,
Sollel explained that some time ago, the petitioners had heard that the
planned to separate between men and women in some of the Mea She’arim
over the Succot holiday and prepared a petition against the move.
haredim hung posters and in other ways communicated that they did not
After the first day of the holiday, members of Aleh went to see
whether the haredim had kept their word. There was no sign of barriers
and, therefore, they did not submit the petition.
The barriers and ushers
appeared soon afterwards however and the petitioners decided to hold a
The police, however, warned that the closer the marchers
got to Kikar Hashabbat, the more potential for violence there would be.
court agreed to take this into account but also said that the march
allowed to get as close as possible to the scene of the action they were
According to the final ruling, the march will take place from