Tel Aviv municipality tells court it stands by refusal to allow ‘Rosh Yehudi’ Sukkot events

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Israel Zeira, head of Rosh Yehudi, an Orthodox group, speaks with police officers during protests after the group set up a gender divider for a Yom Kippur public prayer event at Dizengoff Square, in Tel Aviv, September 24, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)
Israel Zeira, head of Rosh Yehudi, an Orthodox group, speaks with police officers during protests after the group set up a gender divider for a Yom Kippur public prayer event at Dizengoff Square, in Tel Aviv, September 24, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)

Tel Aviv’s municipality stands by its refusal to allow Rosh Yehudi to hold events on public ground during the Sukkot holiday, the municipality tells the Tel Aviv District Court.

The municipality’s reply today is to a petition filed by Rosh Yehudi last week. In it, the nonprofit, whose activity is focused on encouraging secular Jews to observe an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle, argues that the city unjustly withdrew its permits for holiday activities, including building a sukkah, a ceremonial hut, on public grounds in Tel Aviv.

“The decision was appropriate,” the municipality writes. “As a rule, the municipality does not allow third parties to host events not meant for the entire public, that exclude parts of the broader public, or if the sought use [of public grounds] will cause a disturbance to public life, disturbances, confrontations, and friction.”

The reply follows a request by the District Court of Tel Aviv that the two parties, Rosh Yehudi and the municipality, review their positions and reach a compromise. The request, however, came in a ruling that said the court lacks jurisdiction to intervene in a matter that is squarely within the municipality’s purview. The court therefore effectively rejected Rosh Yehudi’s appeal for an injunction against the city.

The city banned the Sukkot events, citing violations in how Rosh Yehudi ran prayer services for Yom Kippur on Dizengoff Square last week. The city issued the permit for the prayer under the stipulation that Rosh Yehudi refrain from placing a physical barrier between men and women, which Rosh Yehudi had sought to do as per the requirements of Orthodox Jewish law.

The city said this was discriminatory. Rosh Yehudi has been hosting prayers on Dizengoff Square since 2020 with a sex segregation barrier.

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