What Makes a Jewish Hero
It has been nearly two weeks since Anat Hoffman’s arrest at the Kotel. This has been a trying time for Anat and for everyone who works at IRAC. For the last ten years, Anat has led this organization with courage and conviction, and, when we think about what she went through on the night of October 16th, we are all distraught. For me personally, Anat is so much more than my boss and my friend. She is my Jewish hero.
What makes a Jewish hero? There is obviously no single formula, but in my eyes he or she must have an unwavering faith in their own ability to create change. Anat has been fighting for justice and equality for over twenty-five years. Many people have told her to give up because Israel’s religious life will always be dominated by the ultra-Orthodox, but Anat’s vision for a pluralistic Jewish state has never wavered.
Just as Abraham questioned God’s decision to destroy Sodom in this week’s Torah portion, a Jewish hero is willing to challenge authorities and transcend fear in the face of injustice. Anat’s courage and dedication have made her an inspiration and a symbol of M’sirut Nefesh (total devotion) for Jewish women and progressive Jews everywhere.
In addition, I believe a Jewish hero needs creativity and a sense of humor. Anybody who knows Anat, including her critics, admits that she has ample provisions of both these qualities. Anat approaches the challenge of ending the ultra-Orthodox hegemony over religious and civil life in Israel in ways I would never have imagined, and she does it with a sense of joy that never stops inspiring me.
The humiliation that Anat recently faced is heartbreaking. I know many of us experience this as an offense to our own Jewish identities and feel it very personally. Anat has taught me that when I see injustice that affects me personally, the best way to heal is by taking action. So, we’re going to keep taking action- on segregation, on racism, and on every one of IRAC’s core issues.
I am blessed to have Anat as a teacher and a mentor. The Jewish people are blessed to have her as a leader. Please take this opportunity to support Anat by supporting our work.
Add your name to a petition urging the Israeli government to ensure that oversight of the Kotel includes a range of Jewish views and voices and protects gender equality.
Noa Sattath is the director of the Israel Religious Action Center.