Joining the salvo of anti-chareidi sentiment, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein rendered an unprecedented decision when he recommended on Wednesday that the exclusion of women from the public sphere be classified as a criminal offense.
According to Ynet, he informed several ministers of his decision to adopt the recommendations of a report issued by the Justice Ministry on the matter.
Weinstein told the ministers, including Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, Interior Minister Gideon Saar, and Health Minister Yael German, that “conduct meant to prevent women from receiving public services under equal conditions should be deemed criminal.” According to the ruling, offering a service that is separate but equal would be considered a criminal act.
The Justice Ministry’s report, which was drafted by a task force set up a year and a half ago, calls for an immediate ban on gender separation in state ceremonies, buses, health clinics, cemeteries, and radio stations.
Weinstein urged the Ministry of Religious Affairs to issue directives allowing women to deliver eulogies at burial sites.
Weinstein also declared it illegal to post signs asking women to dress modestly in specific neighborhoods in consideration of the residents, and singled out a specific religious radio station where women do not serve as broadcasters.
The report also determined that government offices and public authorities are forbidden from organizing an event in which men and women are separated.
One chareidi lawyer that Hamodia spoke to wondered if, according to Weinstein’s ruling, a mechitzah in a shul becomes a criminal act of gender separation. While presumably the attorney general cannot interfere in a private shul, he may wish to stop all government funding for any institution that follows the halachos of tznius, the lawyer noted.
MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman said in response to the announcement that it is an offensive and unprecedented interference in the chareidi way of life, which is based on halachah and cannot be altered. “Determining that by keeping Torah and mitzvos one is doing a criminal act is a very serious, and unnecessary, step. The boundaries of tznius that have been accepted throughout the generations have preserved the purity of Am Yisrael and we will continue in the way of the Torah that has been passed down to us.”
Rabbi Litzman added that it is very regretful that the Attorney General has chosen to be swept up in the populist wave led by certain elements in an effort to attack shomrei Torah and mitzvos in Eretz Yisrael, and it is a an affront to his high-level position. It would be better if the Attorney General would not turn himself into one who stood at the head of those who fought against all that is holy, Rabbi Litzman said, adding, “All these who preach to us on the subject have a very long way to go in rectifying their ways in preserving the dignity of those who they purport to speak for. Jewish Law does not need any instructions or permits from any authority.”
(With reporting by Hamodia staff.)