Shalom Life | April 17, 2014

Woman Holding Torah Arrested at Kotel

Leaders of prayer group violates High Court ruling.

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: July 12th, 2010 in News » Israel

Woman Holding Torah Arrested at Kotel

Anat Hoffman, leader of the female prayer group Women of the Wall (WOW), was arrested for holding a Torah Scroll at the Western Wall on Monday. The group had gathered at the Kotel to mark the beginning of the month of Av, also known as “Rosh Chodesh Av.” Hoffman was caught holding the Torah at Robinson’s Arch, where the group has been ordered to stay when conducting their services. WOW has been celebrating each new month at the Western Wall for the last 20 years.

Witnesses say that the Torah scroll had been removed from a bag earlier than permitted, and the women began dancing with it. Another witness accused Hoffman of hiding the scroll under her clothing, so it would not be seen. Hoffman’s fellow group members ridiculed this possibility, claiming that “a book as big as an eight-year-old child” cannot be hidden under one’s clothing. Following the arrest, WOW members protested outside the police station, where Hoffman was taken. She was later released back to her home, but is banned from visiting the Kotel for 30 days.

This is not the first time WOW members have faced controversy. In November 2009, a woman associated with the group was arrested at the Wall for wearing a tallit. According to the Supreme Court of Israel, women are prohibited from wearing shawls at the wall (including tefillin), and from reading the Torah there. The Wall is currently under the control of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

Rabbi Erin Polonsky of Temple Sinai in Toronto spoke to Shalom Life about the incident. “Why should the Orthodox have the monopoly on how to define religious practice? If they don't like [other’s practices] they can turn away. It's all of our spot. It doesn't belong to the Orthodox. It belongs to Jews. It should be an apolitical place. It should be a place where Jews can come and worship. If you look back, you can find pictures of the Western Wall where women and men are praying side by side. There didn't used to be a mechitza (“divider”) and there didn't used to be an Orthodox shul… If I was at an Orthodox shul and I crossed the mechitza, they'd ask me to leave but I'm not going to end up in jail.”

The Masorti Movement’s response to the arrest echoed Rabbi Polonsky’s thoughts, as reported by Ynet. “The arrest of the Women of the Wall chairwoman is a foolish act. We never called and will never call for violation of the law, but such selective enforcement against a non-violent act is puzzling. The Western Wall plaza belongs to all of the people of Israel and the Haredim have confiscated the Wall from the people."

Hoffman is a very prominent activist for the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel. This organization called the arrest “a harsh reminder of the price the Israeli society may pay for its religious intolerance and fanaticism.” It also vowed to “use legal and public means to build a third plaza at the Western Wall which will be open to the entire public without sex segregation.”

“To make it against the law of the country to be able to express your Jewish voice in your own way is oppressive,” said Polonsky.

Anat Hoffman will be speaking at 10 a.m. at Temple Sinai this Saturday, as part of the Shabbat services.

Topman Apologizes for Nazi Jackets Topman Apologizes for Nazi Jackets TrendingWestboro Baptist Church to Picket Kansas Victims Funeral Westboro Baptist Church to Picket Kansas Victims Funeral TrendingChinese Tourists Flock to Israel Chinese Tourists Flock to Israel Trending
 

Missouri Mayor 'Agrees' with Kansas Shooter

April 16, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Missouri Mayor 'Agrees' with Kansas Shooter

Dan Clavenger, the mayor of Marionville, Mo., said Frazier Glenn Miller, who killed three people at Jewish centers Sunday, was "nice and friendly"

Read More

‘The View’ Co-Hosts Past and Present to Reunite For Barbara Walters Farewell

April 16, 2014 | By Sarah Bauder
‘The View’ Co-Hosts Past and Present to Reunite For Barbara Walters Farewell

All 11 co-hosts of 'The View' will appear on stage together for the first time

Read More

Top 7 Most Exciting Alternative Modes of Transport in Israel

April 16, 2014 | By Karin Kloosterman
Top 7 Most Exciting Alternative Modes of Transport in Israel

Folding cars and scooters, a cardboard bike, a no-impact wheel and a 'floating' rapid transit system are here or soon to appear in Israel

Read More

Stop Spreading Lies! AC/DC Are Not Breaking Up

April 16, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
Stop Spreading Lies! AC/DC Are Not Breaking Up

The band has finally addressed recent rumors regarding their split

Read More

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher Are Expecting a Girl

April 16, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher Are Expecting a Girl

The happily engaged couple have announced the sex of their baby

Read More

James Franco Appears in 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Without His Knowledge

April 16, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
James Franco Appears in 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' Without His Knowledge

The actor is apparently making a cameo in the upcoming sequel to 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'.

Read More

Sorry, Chelsea Handler Fans. She's Not Replacing Craig Ferguson

April 16, 2014 | By Ashley Ramnarain
Sorry, Chelsea Handler Fans. She's Not Replacing Craig Ferguson

CBS quashed the rumors regarding Handler taking Ferguson's 'Late Late Night' spot

Read More

Jewish Hall of Fame: David Ben-Gurion

April 16, 2014 | By Zak Edwards
Jewish Hall of Fame: David Ben-Gurion

Ben-Gurion was the primary founder and first Prime Minister of the State of Israel

Read More

More Headlines