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October 8, 2015 | 25th Tishrei 5776

Statement by Rabbi Eric Yoffie on Women of the Wall

In recent months, Israeli police have increased pressure on Women of the Wall, a progressive monthly prayer group that meets at the Western Wall. In response to the interrogation of group leader Anat Hoffman, Rabbi Yoffie issued this statement.

Contact: Kate Bigam | (202) 387-2800

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 12, 2010 – In recent months, Israeli police have increased pressure on Women of the Wall, a progressive monthly prayer group that meets at the Western Wall. The late 2009 arrest of Nofrat Frenkel for wearing a prayer shawl, or tallit, while praying at the Wall, and this month's interrogation of Women of the Wall leader and Israel Religious Action Center Director Anat Hoffman are but two examples of this intensified harassment.  In response to this series of events, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

"I am deeply distressed by the campaign of intimidation against the Women of the Wall. Such intimidation offends the religious sensibilities of millions of Jews in Israel and throughout the world. 

"Throughout the generations, the Kotel has been a source of inspiration to Jews everywhere.  It is a concrete symbol of our love for Jerusalem and our common Jewish destiny. The wall belongs to the entire Jewish people; it must not be used as a tool of division.  We hope the day will come when all Jews will be permitted to pray at the Wall in accordance with their own religious customs, in an area allotted for that purpose. 

"Now, we urge the government to enforce the law at the Kotel in an equal and just manner and to end harassment of women gathering there for prayer.  We urge Israeli authorities to allow gatherings for civic and religious purposes by all responsible Jewish groups in the plaza area of the Wall, as was customary in the past.  We urge that the Wall be seen as a place that unifies our people, where all Jews are welcomed and all are respected. 

"As Jews have done throughout history, we remain committed to ensuring the right to free and joyful religious expression - at the Kotel and around the globe.  We express our thanks and admiration to Anat Hoffman for her leadership role in advancing religious freedom at the Wall and throughout Israel.  Together with ARZA (Association of Reform Zionists of America), ARZA Canada and the Women of Reform Judaism, I call on Jews in North America to stand alongside Women of the Wall and with all those who share our belief in the wonder and power of prayer."

The Union for Reform Judaism is the synagogue arm of Reform Judaism in North America, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 920 congregations across the United States and Canada. Union programs and services include youth camps, music and book publishing, adult education opportunities, Outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.

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