Woman Arrested for Carrying Torah Speaks With The Sisterhood

Following the arrest today of Anat Hoffman — chair of Women of the Wall, and former Jerusalem municipal council member — for being a woman holding a Torah at the Western Wall plaza, Hoffman offered me her first-hand account of this morning’s events. She said:

The Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that women are allowed to read from the Torah and wear a tallit as an outer garment at the Kotel. But four days after that ruling, ultra-Orthodox Knesset members submitted a bill to make these acts illegal — and punishable by up to seven years in prison. As a result, the Supreme Court reversed itself and ruled it illegal for women to read Torah or wear an outer tallit at the Kotel plaza. But Hoffman says she was doing neither — that she was merely holding the Torah, as she walked from the plaza to towards Robinson’s Arch — a portion of the wall designated spot for these activities. Nevertheless, according to witness accounts, the police tried pulling the Torah away from her and then arrested her.

“The Torah took quite a beating this morning,” said Hoffman, who was fined 5,000 NIS ($1,300), and placed under a restraining order that bars her from the Western Wall plaza for 30 days.

In response to a query from The Sisterhood, Micky Rosenfeld, the national police spokesman said:

When asked about Hoffman’s account that she was merely carrying the Torah — not praying with it — Rosenfeld replied, “The police maintain that she was in violation of the agreement.”

But Hoffman told The Sisterhood:

She said she is hoping for a large turnout at next month’s meeting of Women of the Wall, to be held on August 11. But she won’t be there because it is scheduled for a day before her restraining order is up. Back in November, another member of Women of the Wall, Nofrat Frenkel, was arrested for wearing a tallit at the Western Wall.

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Woman Arrested for Carrying Torah Speaks With The Sisterhood

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