Israel, Religion, Sex & Gender

Women of the Wall Leader Interrogated By Jerusalem Police

On January 5th, Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center and one of the leaders of Women of the Wall, was interrogated by the Jerusalem Police. This is, of course, on the heels of Nofrat Frenkel’s arrest at WoW in November. Hoffman was told that she is a suspect in a felony, accused of not obeying a legal order and disrupting the peace at the Western Wall. The interrogation lasted over an hour.
Below is Hoffman’s account of the incident; here’s a piece about it from the Forward.
Hoffman writes,

At the beginning of the session, the interrogating police officer, Rav Samal Bachir (Senior Staff Sergeant Major) Yoram Suleiman, notified me that I was being interrogated as a suspect in a felony: not complying with a legal order and disturbing the peace.
The interrogation took place at the Kishle police station.
The police got my address from the rasham ha-amutot (the registry of non-profit organizations), and I was asked the following questions:
1. Do you know what the Supreme Court decision was?
2. What did the police officer demand from Women of the Wall during
their prayer services on Rosh Hodesh Kislev (November 18) and Rosh
Hodesh Tevet (December 18)?
3. Are you a member of the organizing body of these prayer services?
4. How many women attended?
5. Did men shout at you?
6. What did they shout?

(Anat says that this question was asked in order to find out whether she
knew that she was doing something that disturbed the sensibilities of
7. Were women wearing tallitot?
8. What is a tallit?
9. Did the women wear kippot?
10. Did you hold a sefer Torah?
11. Did you hold a sefer Torah with intent to read it?
12. Did you hold a procession in the direction of Robinson’s Arch?
13. Did you say on Galei Zahal that the aim of your group is to hold a
quiet protest against the discrimination against women at the Western Wall?
14. For what reason do you think there is discrimination against women
at the Western Wall?
15. Do you personally wear a tallit and a kippah?
16. Is there anything else you would like to add?
“Then,” said Anat, “the police officer took me to the other room, dipped
my fingertips in ink and took my fingerprints, just like they do in the

12 thoughts on “Women of the Wall Leader Interrogated By Jerusalem Police

  1. Also note the Forward editorial:
    I know that Jane Eisner, the Forward editor, has been surprised by the seeming lack of reaction by the North American Jewish community (aside from the Conservative Movement.
    I would therefore suggest reactions via Talkbacks on the Forward site.

  2. Welkom! Welkom to our homeland! SO many people have been interrogated and fingerprinted and much much worse… just because of who they are. It’s like they usedta tell me when I was in the army, “If you don’t get courtmartialed at least once, you haven’t served.” Didn’t haul you in? And you call yourself an activist? Did this interrogation uncover ANY new information at all? Any of those questions not already answered? So howzit an interrogation? We all know what the purpose of this episode really was.
    On a recent visit to eretz hakoydesh, due to a snafu our family’s visas ran out and for a brief period we were in limbo, which, good little Yankee children that we are, freaked us out. A Bedouin friend laughed and said, “So,what, you’re all worried because you’re illegal for a day or a week, maximum a month? I’ve been illegal here since the day I was born!” So too, women in that fetishersatzsynagogue. Just illegal because we were born.

  3. I find the question “Did you hold a sefer Torah with intent to read it?” to be disturbing on a real visceral level. It’s the “X with intent to Y” phrasing, which I associate strongly with formal legal stuff, intertwined with a religious act that’s only publicly offensive (as opposed to being arguably halachically wrong) from a fundamentalist perspective. It smacks of bringing the worst of sharia-ruled countries into Israel. The amount I care is limited, because I’ve already mostly given up on Israel, but the part of me that hasn’t given up is seething right now.

  4. I don’t know if #14 is asking why she believes discrimination exists or what she believes are the reasons for discrimination. Goofy question either way.
    Don’t even get me started on the whole extra Wilson’s Arch space. I expect to hear about flat screen tvs and barcaloungers in there next.

  5. this is disgusting. useless acts like these are what gives israel a bad reputation. if we can’t be at peace with our own people, how can we make peace with others?
    also, there should be a counter-suit for verbal abuse and sexual harassment. i some of the things shouted from a first hand source, and it’s disgusting what some of the “religious” men got away with saying to those women.

  6. So if Israel is such a messed up place, why are American Jews still sending their money — and kids — there? What if we stopped? What if instead we took the money we’d send to Israel and used it to make more positive change in the quality and vitality of Jewish life in North America? Why don’t we make OUR country a more welcoming place for Jews of every stripe? And why isn’t anyone else asking these questions?

  7. This is so messed up! I just cannot believe the way women are treated at the Wall. Everytime I start thinking about it, especially with MLK day approaching, the line “We must be the change we seek in the world” runs through my head. I think Gandhi said that. It’s time for plane loads of women from America to get off there butts and storm the wailing wall! Do a pray-in, and just park ourselves there. Really draw international media attention, and encourage everyone to join us. I am planning a visit this summer, hopefully for the onepeacejerusalem event ( Perhaps some protesting could happen then….but hopefully sooner.

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