Women praying at Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall, need not fear police threats of arrest if seen wearing traditional ceremonial attire associated with the religion’s males following a Jerusalem District Court ruling handed down on Thursday.
The order, which says women may pray with prayer shawls and phylacteries, is seen as a major victory for a group called Women of the Wall, which has been struggling for almost 25-years against police and Orthodox Jewish authorities in charge of the site, for the right to defy traditional restrictions.
The case again brings to the fore the issue of religion’s role – and the authority wielded by religious authorities associated with religious practice – in the modern state of Israel. In addition to being portrayed as the epicenter of Jewish prayer, the Western Wall is simultaneously a holy site and a site used for ceremonies such as soldiers’ swearing-in ceremonies and other national activities.
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