by M.W.

Israel Caves to Misogyny

Two months after medical student Nofrat Frenkel (below) was arrested at the Western Wall for the apparent crime of Reading Torah While Female, Women of the Wall, the well-known and decades-old organization with whom Frenkel was praying while arrested, faced a new challenge. In early January, Anat Hoffman — Women of the Wall’s chairwoman, former member of Jerusalem’s city council, and director of the Reform Movement’s Israel Religious Action Center — was summoned to a local police station for questioning. Hoffman, who did not know the nature of the charges against her, was fingerprinted and questioned upon her arrival, and told she was under investigation for committing a felony. According to a 2003 Israeli Supreme Court ruling, women — specifically Women of the Wall — cannot read Torah in the main plaza of the Wall; they must go to nearby Robinson’s Arch. (The ruling reversed a 2002 decision that granted the group full and equal access, which prompted several religious political parties to introduce severely punitive legislation which, had it passed, would have punished women for “non-traditional” prayer at the Western Wall by up to seven years in prison.)

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