Western Wall rabbi apologizes for gender segregation during Pence visit
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Western Wall rabbi apologizes for gender segregation during Pence visit

Shmuel Rabinovitch invites editor of Globes newspaper to visit Jerusalem holy site, after reporter said she'd sue over separate area for female journalists

Female reporters covering Mike Pence’s visit to the Western Wall on January 23, 2018. Tal Schneider is at left. (Michael Lipin/Twitter, via JTA)
Female reporters covering Mike Pence’s visit to the Western Wall on January 23, 2018. Tal Schneider is at left. (Michael Lipin/Twitter, via JTA)

The rabbi of the Western Wall sent a letter of apology to the editor of the Globes business daily for the discriminatory treatment of one of its reporters during Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the site last week.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, writing to Globes editor-in-chief Naama Sikuler, said, “I want to express my regret for the anguish suffered by your newspaper’s diplomatic correspondent,” Tal Schneider.

He also said he would “be very happy to set a meeting and visit to the Western Wall soon. The invitation is for you and whoever else you want to bring with you.”

Sikuler received the letter on Monday.

Schneider had threatened to file a lawsuit against Rabinovitch over the segregation of female reporters and photographers from their male counterparts during Pence’s visit. On a podium erected for the journalists in the Western Wall plaza, the women were required to stand behind the men.

The women finally removed a tarp and stood on chairs, so they could see over their male colleagues. The site had been closed to worshipers during the visit.

US Vice President Mike Pence signs the Western Wall guest book during his visit to the holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City on January 23, 2018, as Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch (L) looks on. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Following the incident, which was widely covered in the media, Globes sent a letter of protest to Rabinovich, requesting different arrangements for future events.

Rabinovitch sent copies of the letter to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman; the director general of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Solly Eliav; and the Western Wall media director, Yohanna Bisraor.

Globes also sent a letter to Friedman on the issue, but has yet to receive a response.

During US President Donald Trump’s visit in May, male and female journalists stood separately, but had equal access.

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