Washington D.C., October 17, 2012 - Last night, police intervened as
women, including Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel
Religious Action Center and chairwoman of Women of the Wall, prayed at
the Western Wall in celebration of the beginning of the Jewish month of
Cheshvan and the 100th anniversary of Hadassah. Hoffman was arrested
and charged with the "offense" of wearing a prayer shawl and disturbing
public order. She vividly described excessive use of force and
mistreatment by the police. Two other women were detained this morning.
Leaders of the Reform Jewish Movement have spoken to Israeli Ambassador
Michael Oren to express great concern, and released the following
"Last night's police intervention as women prayed at
the Kotel as well as the arrest of Anat Hoffman are appalling. Anat
Hoffman is not only a courageous champion of social justice, but a close
friend and colleague. The treatment she has described while being held
in jail is deplorable and degrading and must be investigated immediately
by the Minister of Police. These events are unacceptable and an affront
to Jews worldwide who treasure Israel as a vibrant democracy committed
to the right of gender equality and religious freedom," said Rabbi Rick
Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism. "Israeli governmental
leaders and law enforcement must ensure that the right of women to pray
at the Wall is protected and arrests such as those that occurred last
night are prevented from ever happening again."
Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism,
added, "There is no denominational monopoly on the spirituality of the
Kotel, and it is intolerable that any woman should be arrested for
praying at one of Judaism's most cherished sites. The role of Israeli
police should rather be to protect those who pray."
Kavadias, Acting Executive Director of ARZA noted, "Anat Hoffman has
been arrested for doing what Jewish women all over the world do on a
regular basis: pray as Jews. Israel's Declaration of Independence
guarantees freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and
culture and commits to safeguarding the holy places of all religions.
It is unconscionable that the State of Israel is now denying us the
religious freedom to pray."
"The Reform Movement calls on the
government of Israel to remove the ultra-Orthodox authority that
oversees the Kotel and ensure the rights of all Jewish people to pray at
this holy site, men and women alike," Kavadias continued. "The words
of Hatikvah, Israel's national anthem, express the will 'To be a free
people in our land.' That freedom will only be a reality when all Jews,
women and men, are able to pray openly without being harassed or