Stewart sent me a couple of interesting items last week. I was having technical issues and am catching up.
Oh yes? There was gender segregation?
During this year’s Sukkot celebrations, police gave ultra-Orthodox leaders of Mea She’arim’s Toldos Aharon community permission to erect a barrier dividing the street by gender, despite the fact that, last year, the High Court ordered community leaders to revoke the segregation they imposed on women on Sukkot.
Large billboards posted throughout the capital’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods last week forbade women to enter Mea She’arim Street during the Sukkot celebration.
This is a public street, you understand. It’s not private property, it’s not the grounds of a synagogue, it’s a public street.
Last year, community leaders put up tarpaulin partitions along the sidewalks on Strauss and Mea She’arim streets, creating a narrow path on one side for women to walk on, and women were forbidden to walk on certain sidewalks and streets during Sukkot’s intermediate days.
Womens’ rights groups and organizations opposing religious coercion have demonstrated against the segregation. Jerusalem councilwomen Rachel Azaria of the Yerushalmim (Jerusalemites) faction and Laura Verton (Meretz) petitioned the High Court of Justice against the practice.
The Jerusalem Post also reported.
Separation barriers erected in the streets of Mea She’arim designed to prevent male and female intermingling during Succot have been ordered dismantled.
At a hearing of the High Court of Justice on Sunday, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch ordered the police to remove the separation barriers and also ordered the police to remove private security personnel enforcing the gender separation.
Can you imagine? Walking on a public street and having private security personnel forcing you behind a partition because you’re a woman?
The decision, also heard by Justice Asher Dan Grunis and Justice Hanan Melcer, comes following a petition filed by Jerusalem City Councilwoman Rachel Azariah on Friday, demanding that last year’s high court ruling, which affirmed that gender separation is illegal, be enforced.
“Succot has arrived and once again there is illegal segregation [of men and women],” Beinisch stated during the hearing. “There has been a takeover of public places by a minority in the neighborhood… The private-security personnel and the canvas partitions should be removed now and beginning at the end of Succot, and from then on, there should be no segregation in Mea She’arim [in the future].”
“The court established today once again that segregation in the public domain on the basis of gender is illegal and has to be acted against,” said Azariah in response to the decision. “There is a long way to go until we reach equality between men and women, but… if Rosa Parks succeeded in the racist period of US history in the 1950s, then we in the democratic State of Israel of 2011 will also succeed.”
Let’s hope so.