Israel, Mishegas, Politics, Religion, Sex & Gender

Police Recommend Pressing Charges Against Anat Hoffman; Rabinowitz Decides Who Is Kosher Enough to Carry a Sefer Torah

This just in from Women of the Wall, in reference to Hoffman’s arrest in July:

This week brought with it more attempts to vilify Women of the Wall and protect the Western Wall as accessible for ultra-Orthodox prayer exclusively. The Jerusalem Police recommended this week that the Ministry of Justice press charges against Anat Hoffman for the felony of “gravely obstructing a police officer in the performance of his duties”, in regards to her July arrest while holding a Torah at the Western Wall. The sentence for such a conviction is up to 3 years in prison. Members and supporters of Women of the Wall in Israel and abroad stand behind Hoffman, and have been busy sending hundreds of letters and pictures of women holding the Torah to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Head of the Opposition Tzipi Livni, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi in charge of the holy places. In these letters, women from all over the world ask Israeli leaders, “How is it that as Jewish women, we are free in Berlin, in Rome, and in Chicago, while in Jerusalem it is illegal and profane for us to read from the Torah?” Supporters are encouraged to continue to send letters and pictures from the website,, conveying a clear message to Israel’s leaders that Women of the Wall will not be intimidated or silenced.
In response to Women of the Wall’s twenty year battle to read Torah on the women’s side of the Western Wall, Rabbi Rabinowitz issued a new regulation, giving him sole and complete control over who is permitted to enter the Western Wall Plaza with a Torah. This new dictatorial procedure extends the blockade against entering to the holy site with a Torah to not only women, but also men who might be determined unfit to carry a Torah by the extremist Rabinowitz. Adv. Nira Azriel is preparing a statement on behalf of Women of the Wall to the authorities regarding the unreasonable strictness of the new regulations, which promise to worsen conditions for women even further.

3 thoughts on “Police Recommend Pressing Charges Against Anat Hoffman; Rabinowitz Decides Who Is Kosher Enough to Carry a Sefer Torah

  1. I’m sympathetic to the struggle of the women of the wall. And yet….
    They are placing themselves as supplicants, begging and entreating the leaders of the state of Israel to please not oppress liberal Judaism and women in _this_ way, or _that_ way.
    For me, Israel is a country that oppresses my faith tradition. The only ‘democracy’ to do so. It deserves rejection, not supplication.
    Instead of appeals to Natan Sharansky, of all people, why not appeals to donate funds to NIF instead of Federation? Or a Women of the Wall contingent crashing the Israel Day Parade – with Torahs? (Does not violate sign prohibition…. heh.) Or an occupation of Israel House in NYC? Something, anything, that takes away Israeli leaders’ role as beard stroking dignitaries judging the merits of these crazy women, and uses the power of nonviolence to provoke change.
    Which is what Anat H. was doing in the first place.

  2. As to be relatively expected, I agree with Jew Guevara. Go figure.
    A Jewish state is an oxymoron. Judaism must in opposition to the State (any state), circumventing it, begrudgingly dealing with it only as a matter of survival (sometimes you have to be Esther).
    Let us dispense with the Zionist narratives of a messianic State saving the Jewish people from the great big bad Rest of The World. Rabbinic Judaism was born of the Diaspora, and even if it lives within the confines of the State of Israel it is still a diaspora. There was no homecoming. Obviously we know there will be no Herzlian negation of the Diaspora. That would be a suicide of Judaism, more devestating than could ever be affected by “intermarriage”.
    We are never at home, until the world is repaired. We are slaves until there are no more slaves. Loving the stranger, the refugee, because we recognize something integral of ourselves in them. Nietzsche called Judaism the outcast religion par-excellence, and I couldn’t agree more. Where we differ is that I think that is a noble distinction. It should come as no surprise that African-American Christianity has always relied more on the Jewish narratives, or that Rastafarianism would construct it’s own versions of peyos and kashrus. It’s not mere coincidence.
    Contemporary Zionism asks us to embrace a new Judaism, one where we only care for our own (and subsequently, to narrow that defintion of who gets included, as we see playing out in the politics of conversion and here in the open persecution of liberal Judaism), like the traif chasida bird. Sure, we must be for ourselves, because we can’t expect anyone else to be. But if we are to exist as a people merely for our own continuity, what the fuck are we anymore?
    It’s not that the Jewish state is flawed. It’s the idea of a Jewish state is a flaw. Granted, I’m no Neuterei Karta. I believe in democracy, and the right of any people to live anywhere. Israel needs to be a democracy that protects and empowers equally all it’s inhabitants, Jews, Druze, Palestinians, women, transpeople, Chareidi yeshiva bochers, itinerant Na Nachers, lesbian rabbis, Salafi missionaries. This means dispensing with fear of losing demographic majorities and embracing democracy at the expense of Jewish national pride at “our own state”. The nationalist experiment has done us few favors, and it’s about time we recognized that.

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