Jerusalem - Councillor: No Gender Separation For Succos
Jerusalem - As the capital readies for the week-long Succot holiday, Jerusalem activists are preparing for their annual battle over the sidewalks in the ultra- Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She’arim.
Some of the larger yeshivas and synagogues attempt to separate the streets and sidewalks by gender during the holiday’s traditional Beit Hashoeva parties – a move that activists say is illegal because sidewalks are public property.
City council member Rachel Azaria appealed to Jerusalem police on Monday, urging them to respond to her questions about preparations for Succot to avoid gender separation.
In a letter sent to police on Monday, Aviad Hacohen, representing Azaria, complained that the police had ignored their repeated queries about preparations for the coming holidays to avoid the barriers.
Hacohen wanted to know what action the police are taking to avoid the “the unacceptable and illegal phenomenon of gender separation, illegal building, the illegal ushers and the violence against passersby on the streets, phenomenon that were witnessed by my clients over the past two years,” he wrote in the letter.
Deputy police spokeswoman Shlomit Bajshi said that police had not yet received Azaria’s letter, but that there were no special preparations in place for the neighborhood. “We will not allow disturbances and we will protect the rights of all citizens,” she said.
Bajshi said that the police would have an increased presence during the holiday, as they do for every holiday, though they had not received any intelligence about plans to build illegal barriers or hold illegal protests.
“I hope that we can depend on police,” Azaria said on Monday. “They got used to working with haredim, but now they need to enforce the law. The time has come for them to take responsibility.”
Azaria added that the police do not have a lot of room for interpretation, since the court ruling including specifics including prohibitions against the use of burlap sacks to create barriers.
“The court was very clear, [the police] can’t play around,” she said. If the gender separation persists, Azaria said she will head right back to the courts.
Last year, Azaria petitioned the High Court of Justice over the issue, which ruled that the barriers are illegal. Shortly afterwards, Mayor Nir Barkat fired Azaria from the Jerusalem coalition and stripped her of her assigned portfolios of early childhood education and community councils. A municipality spokeswoman said at the time that while it is opposed to gender separation, a member of the coalition cannot file a petition against the city, though Azaria dismissed the move as political infighting.
Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post
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