Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman has revealed her longterm intentions in a BBC interview, as she demands that the Kotel's rabbi allow women to conduct services at which they pray with prayer shawls, phylacteries and read the Torah at the Kotel, in violation of the rules governing the holy site which have been upheld by Israel's Supreme Court.
Temple Mount activist Yosef Rabin sent the video of the interview to other activists Thursday and wrote in an e-mail that "Anat Hoffman's attempt at taking over the Kotel is nothing short of a declaration of war against Torah Judaism in the Land of Israel."
"She is dangerous and people especially Rabbis and leadership must begin to cleverly oppose this dangerous woman and expose her for what she is," he opined.
Rabin pointed to an interview for the Jewish Daily Forward in which Hoffman said:
"We want to be with the rest of the Jews of the world at the Western Wall, and pray halakhically [according to Jewish law] as we do.”
In the BBC interview, Hoffman said she is a Reform Jew. The Reform movement does not adhere to halakhah. And the controversy at the Kotel is not only over halakhah, but over violating the rules for traditional prayer set at the Kotel in order that the stringently observant, who visit it daily in large numbers, will be comfortable praying there.
In Jewish law, women are exempt from commandments that are time-dependent so that they will be free to care for children. Because of that exemption, a prayer quorum is made of ten men and women may not recite the blessings that thank G-d for mandating those commandments. Reading from the Torah scroll is only permissible without the blessings. While it is uncommon for women to wear prayer shawls and phylacteries, there are some Orthodox rabbis who permit it.
Rabin claims that Hoffman is deliberately obfuscating the difference between showing respect for Kotel tradition (obeying the court's decision) and halakhic parameters. He claims that Hoffman's goals are to have reform and conservative practices recognized as valid halakhically in Israel, as evidenced by statements she made to BBC News, especially from the 2:25 second mark:
Interviewer: I want to understand are you just trying to change the setup at the Western Wall or is your point a broader one about Judaism.
Anat Hoffman: "I think when you change the holiest site of the Jewish people you are actually asking why not about a variety of other life choices dictated to Israelis by the Orthodox monopoly.
"I am also questioning why are the Orthodox the only ones in charge of marriage and divorce in Israel? Many Israelis want to get married in other ways and we do not have civil marriage or reform and conservative marriage and more importantly reform or conservative divorce. Some of us wish to get buried not by Orthodox custom but by reform, conservative or secular custom."