Court Upholds Prohibition on Mechitzah for Tel Aviv Yom Kippur Prayers

By Matis Glenn

Dizengoff Square (Google)

The Tel Aviv District Court ruled Thursday in favor of a city prohibition against placing mechitzos in a public square to allow residents to daven according to halacha on Yom Kippur.

Mayor Ron Huldai had issued the ban during the pandemic lockdowns against the mechitzos, used for several years to facilitate prayers for thousands of people who converge on Dizengoff Square to pray on Yom Kippur. There was a separate section for people who, r”l, pray without gender separation, but that was not enough for Huldai. After the ban was instituted, it was challenged by lawyers who argued that it infringed on the rights of freedom of religion.

The judge rejected the petition of the Freedom and Human Dignity in Israel Forum, which had advocated for the mechitzos.

Among the lawyers representing advocates for the mechitzos was Attorney Tzafnat Nordman, who wrote passionately on social media: “The court in the Jewish state prohibits a partition in Jewish prayer. The first ban on partitions in the sovereign Land of Israel, since the British and the Mufti. I finished reading the verdict with [tears] in my eyes and a nodule in my throat… What an insult.

“First of all as a Jew, then as a citizen of the State of Israel, finally as a jurist.”

Nordman says that the ruling “tramples on basic principles of administrative and constitutional law, of the liberal system, and severely harms every Jew who is not yet completely alienated from his quarry. I’ll stop here. An orderly summary is yet to come, in the meantime…tears.”

Later on Thursday, the Likud party sent a stern letter to Huldai, starting with: “Imposing restrictions on Yom Kippur prayers in the city means widening the social rift and harming the religious freedom of the city’s residents.”

The letter said that the holiday atmosphere has been damaged by the ruling. “We are currently in the midst of the High Holidays, a period of holidays and family and community events, of longstanding tradition and generations, and of a festive and unifying atmosphere among the people of Israel. But unfortunately, the holiday atmosphere has been damaged,” the letter read.

“In recent days, it seems that the discourse surrounding the traditional Yom Kippur prayer in the city, an activity that took place undisturbed for years, has come to an extreme. The Yom Kippur prayer at Dizengoff Square is, as we know, a tradition of many years, which takes place in the public sphere and allows each person to participate and take part in the event according to his way and faith…,” the letter continued.

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!