NCJW Shocked by Arrest of Women of the Wall Leader in Israel

National Council of Jewish Women

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NCJW Shocked by Arrest of Women of the Wall Leader in Israel

July 13, 2010, Washington, DC — Nancy Ratzan, president of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), decried the arrest of Anat Hoffman, leader of Women of the Wall in Israel, and the offensive law that restricts freedom of religion for Jewish women in Israel:

As she was carrying a Torah during morning services at the women’s section of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Anat Hoffman was arrested by Israeli police. This arrest of the leader of Women of the Wall is a shocking wake-up call that all women in Israel are not free to practice their Judaism there. This police action is part of a systematic plan to erode the right of women to access Judaism’s most sacred site.

This arrest sadly and dangerously divides the Jewish community, suggesting to Jews worldwide that the religious practices of those who affiliate with egalitarian movements will not be respected in Israel. This disturbing arrest is an affront to our collective history and our shared destiny. The idea that a Jewish leader could be arrested for worshipping with a Torah by a Jewish police force in a Jewish state seems inconceivable and yet yesterday, it happened for the second time in a short period of time.

In our Torah, we are instructed to be an or l’goyim, a light among the nations. By passing and enforcing draconian laws that deprive women of the right to equality and participation in public life, which in Israel, is synonymous with religious life, Israel places itself among the regressive, oppressive regimes in the world that deny religious freedom and women’s rights.

Today’s arrest, combined with the upcoming Knesset vote on an offensive bill, offered by MK Rotem, that would erase recognition of Conservative and Reform Jewish conversions in the State of Israel is deeply troubling. This issue extends far beyond its impact on those who have chosen to convert to Judaism, but one that hits at the heart of our unity as a Jewish people.

NCJW urges Israel to return to our commitment to be a light among the nations, staying true to its founding vision of offering all Jews a home where they can practice their religion freely without fear of intimidation.”

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.

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