Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center and Chair of Women of the Wall, was arrested at the Western Wall mid-prayer.
Last night, Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan eve, 16.19.12, Anat Hoffman was arrested during a prayer service she led along with members of Women of the Wall and Hadassah, who are currently holding their centennial convention in Jerusalem.
Over 250 women joined Anat Hoffman for a late night prayer. She was detained during the prayer service and held overnight in police custody. She is being arraigned this morning at the courthouse in Jerusalem.
She was arrested for saying the Shema, Judaism’s central declaration of faith, out loud in the women’s section of the Western Wall. The Western Wall, which in some ways operates outside normal Israeli law, is controlled by an ultra-Orthodox monopoly. They have put tremendous pressure on the police and government officials to institute practices that are intended to preserve their extreme interpretation of modesty.
As a result, this makes it illegal for many acts of Jewish devotion that are commonplace all over the world to take place at Judaism’s holiest site. Ms. Hoffman’s arrest was another example of how the simple act of a woman praying can be seen as subversive to a certain segment of the Kotel’s power structure.