Written By Robert Tait, Jerusalem, 25 Apr 2013
The Telegraph, U.K.
Women’s rights campaigners won a potential landmark legal victory after a judge ruled that they should be allowed to pray at the Western Wall, Judaism’s most sacred site, in a manner previously deemed only fit for men.
The Jerusalem District Court said police were wrong to arrest five members of the Women of the Wall movement this month after they tried to worship under prayer shawls, known as tallits, and recite the Torah aloud.
The decision represents a major step forward for the organisation in a long and bitter campaign against an edict from conservative ultra-orthodox Jews that women should be forbidden wearing shawls at the wall, site of the ancient Jewish temple.
Police detained the women amid a hail of angry catcalls from ultra-orthodox men two weeks ago as they gathered for prayers to mark the start of the Hebrew month.
Officers said they had been arrested for violating a 2003 supreme court ruling that laid down that women praying under tallits broke the “tradition of the site” while provoking disturbances by upsetting other worshippers.
A Jerusalem magistrates court later threw out a police application to prosecute the five women.
Ruling on an appeal against the rejection, Judge Sobel said the police had misinterpreted the supreme court verdict and were not justified in using it as a basis for arresting the women.
“The conclusion in the  ruling is not phrased as an order directed at the Women of the Wall, but as a recommendation,”he wrote.
“The fear of creating disturbances, without a claim that any of the defendants used any kind of violence, physical or verbal, does not constitute a reasonable basis for the fear that the defendants are those who threaten public security or the security of any person in the Western Wall plaza.”
Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of Women of the Wall, said the latest ruling “liberated the Western Wall for all Jewish people.”. “We did it for the great diversity of Jews in the world, all of whom deserve to pray according to their belief and custom at the Western Wall,” she told the newspaper Haaretz.
This month’s arrests took place a day after the Nathan Sharansky, head of the state-run Jewish Agency, proposed a compromise to the dispute that would see a separate mixed section opening, away from the male-only compound, where females could worship as they liked.
Mr Sharansky had been charged with finding a solution by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israelﾒs prime minister, who has come under pressure on the issue from liberal American Jews.