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Anat Hoffman being arrested for carrying a Torah scroll.

“Well behaved women seldom make history”… this was a bumper stick I saw tonight — very appropriate, since the car was parked outside  a lecture by Anat Hoffman.  Anat is anything but well behaved, and she is certainly making history.

If you don’t know who she is, you may remember my blog post from last summer (“Shame on Us – Women of the Wall Chairperson Arrested,” July 12, 2010) when she was arrested for a) being a woman, and b) holding a Torah scroll at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.  She is also one of my heroes.

It was a thrill to hear her speak and shake her hand afterwards.   Her message was short and sweet: “You guys [Americans] have to use your untapped nuisance value.” 

What did she mean?  That we have to help Israelis take Israel back from the ultra-Orthodox.   It’s not OK that women are restricted to visiting 1/4 of the wall (48 meters for men, 12 for women).  It’s not OK that in Israel there are segregated post offices, police stations, buses, even sidewalks.  It’s not OK that a vast minority has control over the lives of the majority.  And worst, in my view, is that they have turned so  many Israel’s away from Judaism.

Anat’s opinion:  “We need to reclaim the [Western] Wall for everyone, Jew and non-Jew…. I can’t stress enough the influence you Americans can have… If you are silent in this issue you are part of it.  Israel is too important to leave to Israelis… you have a huge untapped nuisance value.  Use it.”

I agree.  I don’t know what we can/should/will do, but I want to be a part of it.  Actually, here is something you can do — this is a link to a letter that’s being circulated that each of us can sign and forward for delivery to leaders in Israel.   Please do!