With women’s group and ultra-Orthodox at odds, new religious affairs minister has his back to the Wall.
Tel Aviv — Last week’s milestone prayer service at the Western Wall with women wrapped in prayer shawls and tefillin was likened by Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman to the “liberation” of the ancient holy site in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Anat Hoffman, Israeli feminist arrested for Kotel service, finds cause for optimism as well as anger.
Special To The Jewish Week
It is the first morning of the Hebrew month of Kislev, and ordinarily Anat Hoffman would be surrounded by a diverse community of women celebrating Rosh Chodesh, singing in the shadow of Judaism’s holiest site, the Kotel. Instead, Hoffman, who is 58 and the chairwoman of the multidenominational prayer group known as Women of the Wall, sits on the other side of the world in a Manhattan restaurant, railing and reflecting — and rejoicing a bit too.
Twenty-four years ago, in December 1988, a group of us, women from the diaspora, carried a Torah scroll to the women’s side of the Kotel, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, and began chanting from it. We had been attending a conference about women held by the American Jewish Congress, and represented a cross section of Jewish denominations. Soon after our service began, a haredi woman nearby started shouting that women were not permitted to read from a Torah scroll.