Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Women of the Wall update - Anat Hoffman interrogated by police

It was reported today in The Forward that Anat Hoffman, founding member of Women of the Wall and Director of the Israel Religious Action Center, was interrogated by police in relation to the group's prayer gathering at the Kotel in December for Rosh Chodesh Tevet, the month after Nofrat Frankel had been arrested at the wall.  The article begins:

The leader of Women of the Wall, a group of women who gather monthly to pray at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, was questioned by police, fingerprinted, and told that she may be charged with a felony for violating the rules of conduct at what is considered Judaism’s most sacred site.
Inked: On January 5, Israeli police interrogated and fingerprinted Anat Hoffman.
Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center, said that police interrogated her for more than an hour on January 5 about her activities during Women of the Wall’s last monthly service in December. Speaking by phone from Jerusalem, Hoffman said she did nothing differently that day than she had for the 21 years of her group’s existence... (continue reading here)
Apparently the crime being investigated was the wearing of tallitot by some women while praying (something which some women do beneath their jackets in a way that is not visible to others).  When the Supreme Court ruled a number of years ago that Women of the Wall must move to Robinson's Arch for their Torah service each Rosh Chodesh, they also ruled that women could not been seen wearing tallitot at the Kotel.
This police action is outrageous and quite clearly intended to intimidate the leadership of Women of the Wall.  After the arrest of Nofrat Frankel there were calls for events around the world to demonstrate Jews standing in solidarity with Women of the Wall.  At B'nai Israel our Rosh Chodesh group responded with and evening of study which led to 8 blogs in solidarity with Women of the Wall, published here at the end of December. 
In light of this ongoing intimidation, we must voice our disgust at the treatment of these women and call for action to be taken to ensure that the Kotel - a holy site and heritage for all Jews - does not continue to be controlled in its use as an ultra-Orthodox synagogue.
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz


  1. WOW! :( I can't believe we live in a day and age when humans are oppressed this way. It's outrageous and outright disgusting.

  2. FYI, I was at a bat-mitzvah at a Conservative (bordering on Orthodox) synagogue last weekend at which the sermon topic was the Women of the Kotel. So it is not just the Reform movement that is (rightfully) outraged.