In recent years Israel has been dealing with demands for more modesty in the public sphere in order to adjust to religious standards. This has resulted in segregation between men and women in public transportation, the exclusion of women in public ceremonies and events, discrimination of girls wishing to have a Bat Mitzvah at the Western Wall and the silencing of women singers on religious radio and army ceremonies. The exclusion of women “for God’s sake” has become a litmus test for the infiltration of ultra-Orthodox norms into state definitions of religious requirements in the public sphere.
Speaking to a packed Beit Midrash at Pardes in Jerusalem, famed social activist, Anat Hoffman became Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center in April 2002. Anat guides IRAC in its work to promote Jewish pluralism, tolerance, and equality and to combat racism, corruption, and religious coercion. During Anat’s tenure, she also expanded IRAC’s mission to go beyond the courts and the Knesset, and to engage in helping people directly through social action.
Previously, Ms. Hoffman served as a Jerusalem City Councilwoman for 14 years, carving out a niche for herself as an untiring warrior for justice and equality. She has dedicated her adult life to the Jewish principle of tikkun olam. In a city where women are traditionally consigned to a subordinate role, Ms. Hoffman led in the battles for the right of women to pray at the Western Wall and for women’s equal pay for equal work. Ms. Hoffman pushed relentlessly for the provision of adequate municipal services for the more than 200,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.