Monday, 15 February 1999

Court ruling divides Israelis

Ultra-Orthodox, secular Jews demonstrate in power struggle

USA TODAY, Feb 15, 1999

Matthew Kalman

JERUSALEM -- More than a quarter million Israelis paralyzed the major arteries of Jerusalem Sunday in two massive demonstrations over the political power of ultra-Orthodox Jews in the country.

The largest gathering was of more than 200,000 Orthodox Jews, who came to the main entrance of the city to recite Psalms and prayers led by the country's senior Orthodox rabbis. Dressed mainly in black, with men and women separated, the demonstrators spilled over a large area, blocking off the highway into the city.

They were protesting recent decisions of the Supreme Court on matters affecting the role of religion in Israel that allowed a greater role for non-Orthodox Jews on religious councils and in matters of conversion.


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