Original Women of the Wall (OWOW) – A cord of three strands is not easily broken

A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12

Three times constitutes a chazakah, an established claim. Three times the rights of the Original Women of the Wall(OWOW) were adjudicated in the courts of Israel, and three times the courts’ decisions left the rights of the OWOW to pray in the Ezrat Nashim intact.

In 1994 the Supreme Court of Israel held that Women of the Wall have a right to pray according to their custom in the Ezrat Nashim.

The Israeli government petitioned for a rehearing, and on 4/6/2003 the Supreme Court ruled that if the government failed to prepare a suitable alternate prayer site at Robinson’s Arch within one year OWOW’s rights at the Kotel would be reaffirmed. The government allowed the year to lapse, triggering the affirmation of the rights of OWOW in the Ezrat Nashim.

In 2013, after a quarter of a century of Women of the Wall faithfully praying in the Ezrat Nashim, Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Sobel, drawing on the previous Supreme Court decisions, declared that Women of the Wall could not be arrested or excluded for praying according to their custom, that their prayers were not a violation of minhag hamakom, that, in fact, minhag hamakom was not static, but evolving. For 25 of the 45 years of renewed Jewish presence at the Kotel, OWOW have been an enduring presence, contributing their rich, interdenominational strand to the evolving weave of customs at the Kotel. After 25 years of uninterrupted, court affirmed, presence at the Kotel, OWOW has a chazakah in the Ezrat Nashim.

The integrity of the fabric of Israel’s civil society depends on upholding the rule of law. In a democracy, no one, not even the government, is above the laws passed by the legislature and reviewed and adjudicated in the courts. In a true democracy, no one’s court affirmed religious rights may be bargained away in politically expedient deals that allow a dominant majority or a menacing minority to oppress or exclude less powerful groups.

We, the Original Women of the Wall (OWOW), will continue to pray in the Ezrat Nashim because our hearts and our heads tell us this is right for us, the State of Israel and the People of Israel. The courts of Israel have recognized the validity of OWOW’s aspirations three times and strengthened our resolve. The Court of Three Strands Will Not Be Quickly Broken.

About the Author
Susan Aranoff is a founding member of the International Committee for Women of the Wall and of AGUNAH International; She is a professor of economics at Kingsborough Community College, CUNY; She and Rivka Haut have an upcoming book that chronicles their decades of work on behalf of agunot
Related Topics
Related Posts