Women of the Wall Leader Arrested for Carrying a Torah
Following the arrest today of Anat Hoffman — chair of Women of the Wall, and former Jerusalem municipal council member — for being a woman holding a Torah at the Western Wall plaza, Hoffman offered me her first-hand account of this morning’s events. She said:
We did nothing wrong. We were fully within the guidelines of the Supreme Court ruling which allows us to hold the Torah. We were not reading from the Torah. We were just singing and praying, and on our way to Robinson’s Arch to complete the service, as per the terms of the Supreme Court. There was absolutely no reason for me to be arrested.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that women are allowed to read from the Torah and wear a tallit as an outer garment at the Kotel. But four days after that ruling, ultra-Orthodox Knesset members submitted a bill to make these acts illegal — and punishable by up to seven years in prison. As a result, the Supreme Court reversed itself and ruled it illegal for women to read Torah or wear an outer tallit at the Kotel plaza. But Hoffman says she was doing neither — that she was merely holding the Torah, as she walked from the plaza to towards Robinson’s Arch — a portion of the wall designated spot for these activities. Nevertheless, according to witness accounts, the police tried pulling the Torah away from her and then arrested her.
Elana Sztokman is a contributing writer at the Sisterhood, which crossposts regularly with Jewesses with Attitude.