On Tuesday night, Anat Hoffman, leader of Women of the Wall and Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center, was arrested for praying at the Western Wall. Anat was reciting the Shema with members of the women’s Zionist organization, Hadassah, who are in Israel for their centennial conference. She was detained and held overnight in police custody for disturbing the peace.
Barbara Kavadias, ARZA’s Acting Executive Director, had this to say about Anat’s arrest:
“Yet again, Anat Hoffman, the executive director of our Israel Religious Action Center, has been arrested for doing what Jewish women all over the world do on a regular basis, pray as Jews. The Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel declares that it guarantees “freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions.” It is unconscionable that the State of Israel, the land of our mothers and fathers, is denying us the religious freedom to pray. ARZA calls on the government of Israel to remove the ultra-Orthodox authority that oversees the Kotel and give it to a person or body who will respect the rights of all Jewish people to pray at this holy site, men and women alike. In Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, we sing “Lihyot am chofshi b’aretzenu” – “To be a free people in our land.” This will only be reality when all of our people, women and men, are able to pray freely without being harassed or physically attacked.”
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