October 17, 2012
Women of the Wall head arrested for singing at Western Wall
Jerusalem police arrested the leader of Women of the Wall for singing at the Western Wall.
Anat Hoffman was arrested Tuesday evening for “disturbing public order.” The organization posted on its Facebook page Wednesday afternoon that Hoffman was in court. "She is being accused of singing out loud at the kotel, disturbing peace," the post read.
Two other members of the organization, Director Lesley Sachs and board member Rachel Cohen Yeshurun, were detained Wednesday morning by police for the same offense. They were released after being interrogated and fingerprinted at the police station in the Old City. According to the organization, the women admitted to wearing a prayer shawl at the Western Wall but not to disturbing public order.
Women of the Wall has held a special prayer service at the Western Wall each month for Rosh Chodesh, or the beginning of new month, at the back of the women's section at the Western Wall for the last 20 years. Tuesday night and Wednesday morning's prayer services for the month of Cheshvan were scheduled to be held together with delegates to the conference marking Hadassah's 100th birthday.
Hoffman was arrested Tuesday night after she had begun singing the "Shema" prayer, according to Haaretz.
In 2003, Israel's Supreme Court upheld a government ban on women wearing tefillin or tallitot, or reading from a Torah scroll at the Western Wall.
In August, Jerusalem police arrested four women for “behavior that endangers the public peace” and wearing prayer shawls. They were forbidden to enter the Western Wall Plaza for the next 50 days, according to the organization.
In June, Israeli police detained a woman wearing a tallit at the Western Wall and later questioned her for four hours after asking her to wear her prayer shawl as a scarf. In May, three women from Women of the Wall were stopped for questioning after praying at the Wall in prayer shawls. They also had been asked to wear the tallitot as scarves rather than shawls.