Women of the Wall leader arrested for singing

Jerusalem police arrested the leader of Women of the Wall for singing at the Western Wall.

Anat Hoffman was arrested Oct. 16 for “disturbing public order.” The organization posted on its Facebook page that Hoffman was in court Oct. 17. “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 Oct. 17 by police for the same offense. They were released after being interrogated and fingerprinted. According to the organization, the women admitted to wearing prayer shawls at the Western Wall but not to disturbing public order.

Women of the Wall has held a prayer service at the Western Wall each month for Rosh Hodesh, or the new moon, at the back of the women’s section for the last 20 years. The prayer services this week at which the women were arrested included  delegates to the conference marking Hadassah’s 100th birthday.

Hoffman was arrested after she had begun singing the Shema prayer, according to the daily paper Haaretz.

In 2003, Israel’s Supreme Court upheld a government ban on women wearing tefillin or prayer shawls, 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 prayer shawl at the Western Wall. In May, three women from Women of the Wall were stopped for questioning after praying at the Wall in prayer shawls. — jta