from Ynetnews: Women of Wall leader arrested
Anat Hoffman, leader of the Women of the Wall prayer group, was arrested at the Western Wall on Monday for holding a Torah scroll. She is suspected of violating a High Court ruling which prohibits women to read the Torah at the holy site.
Hoffman was taken to a nearby police station, while her fellow group members protested outside the building.
She was later released to her home under restricting conditions, but has been banned from visiting the holy site for a 30-day period.
Dozens of Women of the Wall members arrived at the Western Wall on Monday morning for a festive prayer in honor of the first day of the month of Av, as they have been doing every month for the past 20 years.
As they began reading the Torah, an act they have been ordered to do at the nearby Robinson's Arch compound, Hoffman was caught holding a Torah scroll and was detained.
Hoffman is one of the prominent activists of the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel and serves as head of the Religious Action Center – the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel.
During the Morning Prayer, the Torah scroll was in a bag, but the women pulled it out earlier than they were permitted to do so, and began dancing with it at the end of the prayer as they were leaving the Western Wall plaza. Hoffman was arrested immediately afterwards.
An eyewitness opposing Women of the Wall said the group leader was arrested for hiding the scroll under her clothes, but the women rejected the claim. "How can a book as big as an eight-year-old child be hidden within someone's clothes?"
The irrationality and childishness of that accusation -- that Hoffman broke a law against hiding a Torah in one's clothing -- shows just how indefensible the government's position is. Even the excuse for the arrest is a charge that is no crime.
Although I do not know for certain, I suspect that the arrest stems from the civil authorities' desire to keep the peace among Orthodox worshipers who have a pattern of violent reactions against those who refuse to conform to their views of religious law. In that sense, this arrest represents mob rule in the guise of law. By this deception, both the religious and civil authorities deny a very obvious truth: that an angry mob should not be allowed to determine who worships and how they do so.
Israel's justice system must find a way to protect the religious freedoms of non-Orthodox Jews. As the American founding fathers understood, both the failure to protect the rights of minority religions, and the imposition of religious law into the realm of civil law, lead to a corrosion of the legitimacy of both the state and religion. The mob must be made to tolerate minorities by whatever combination of force, persuasion or creative looking the other way works to best keep the peace and preserve the rights of all involved.
Women of the Wall and other progressive Jews have just as much right to worship at the Wall as do the Orthodox. By enforcing an unjust law, Israeli authorities merely draw that injustice into sharper focus.