The Forward reports that the Israeli police detained Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center and Women of the Wall, questioned and fingerprinted her, and warned her she could be charged with a felony for her involvement in last month’s Rosh Chodesh prayer service at the Kotel. What did she do that was so nefarious? She and some of her female co-religionists have argued that women should be allowed to read Torah and wear a tallit at the Kotel! I know, it is hideous. Busha v’cherpa! Shameful. Some of the Orthodox men rushed the women’s section and shouted disgusting epithets at them calling them Nazis and spitting at them.
This is what Orthodox Judaism has become in Israel: debasing women who long for nothing more than to be equal religious partners with men. It brings to mind the cry of the angels on witnessing the martyrdom of Rabbi Akiva: Zo Torah v’ zo sechorah? (“This is Torah and this its reward?!). This is Anat Hoffman’s “reward”:
Hoffman said that the police told her that she was being investigated for violating a decision of the Israeli Supreme Court that prohibits women from wearing prayer shawls at the Wall. But the Women of the Wall claim to have accommodated themselves to the ruling; instead of donning the black-and-white tallit, traditional for men, they each wear a smaller, multi-colored shawl like a scarf around the neck and under a coat, so as not to offend the strict sensibilities of other men and women at the Wall.
“It’s a sad moment,” said Hoffman. She has gone to the police station in Jerusalem many times to lodge complaints against people who she says have attacked and occasionally physically hurt members of her group; none of those people have ever been arrested, she said. But this is the first time that she has been subject to interrogation herself. A lawyer and skillful advocate, she said that the questioning did not bother her, but the fingerprinting did. “There is something very violating about it,” she said.
What has the (Orthodox) Jewish religion become in Israel that it seeks to criminalize Jewish women for religious expression? What will they prosecute her for? Being a Jewish ho? Carrying a Torah? Wearing a tallit? These are ritual objects that Jewish men have died for over the centuries. Now you would deny them to Jewish women?
Similarly, it reminds me of another egregious social phenomenon in Israel by which the Egged bus company has approved lines in which women must enter from the back of the bus and sit in a section segregated from men. Not only should this be a violation of secular law, it doesn’t even conform with Jewish halacha. Be ashamed, Haredi Jews, be very ashamed.
I’m waiting for Michael Oren to go to another American Jewish organization and lie about Hoffman’s arrest as he did about the arrest and detention of Nofrat Frenkel on similar charges.