Hebrew University Students Vote Down Male-female Partition at Annual Gala

Members of the law students' union vote against a partition for religious women at the gala 211 to 176.

Students at an Israeli university.
Emil Salman

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s law students’ union voted Tuesday that there would be no partition for religious women students to dance behind at the department's annual gala. The vote was 176 for and 211 against.

The chairman of the law students’ union, Gilad Katzir said: “The vote was democratic, with all voices heard on both sides of the issue. Without reference to the result, we are pleased and proud that despite the dispute the parties maintained mutual respect and tolerance for one another’s opinions, and so no damage was done to the friendship of the members of the union and the special fabric of life in the law department. From this point on our efforts will be to put the will of the students into action.”

The decision to bring the matter to a vote was made after last year it was decided without a vote, following a request by a few students, to place a partition in the hall alongside a dance floor for men and women, so that religious women would be able to dance among women only. Following a protest the decision was rescinded and it was decided this year to put the matter to a vote.

MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi) wrote earlier Tuesday to Hebrew University President Menahem Ben-Sasson, following a threat by some faculty members to boycott the event if a partition was set up. Moalem-Refaeli wrote that not allowing the partition was “secular coercion and the exclusion of women,” adding: “As a religious woman I was shocked at reports that senior faculty members were considering boycotting the event and even withdrawing its funding if the women’s request was granted. The female students are asking that their religious worldview be respected and allow them to be part of the social fabric in their lives as students. They are, of course, not demanding that their religious lifestyle be forced on others.”

There is another unresolved problem with the gala – it is scheduled for an evening during the month-long Ramadan fast. It seems the date will not be changed although this will mean Muslim students will not be able to attend.