Anat Hoffman has been ordered not to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for 30 days. Jerusalem police detained her on Monday after she brought a Torah scroll to the women’s prayer section of the Western Wall, holiest sites in Judaism and a remnant of the ancient site of the original Jewish Temple. Hoffman leads “Women of the Wall,” a group of conservative Jews that challenges the limitations put on women’s prayer. The Israeli Supreme Court under the influence or ulta-Orthodox groups has ruled that women can’t read from the Torah in the temple area. Witnesses of yesterday’s confrontation said Hoffman had possession of the Torah scroll in the prayer area but was not reading it.
There’s a story in the Christian Scriptures – John 4 – of a woman from Samaria, a region in 1st Century Israel, who asked Jesus about the proper place to pray. She was concerned because Samaritans were not allowed to pray in the Jewish Temple. They countered that the right place to meet God was on the holy mountain in their region where God has once met with his people. Jesus answered her and all of us in the process, that the location of worship does not matter. He simply said, “True worshippers worship in spirit and in truth.” What matters is the heart of prayer and worship.
“We pray today for all those who feel banished from their relationship with God. For those who have suffered from the rejection of restrictive religious systems, who have been ostracized from their relationship with God by human rules and regulations. God, meet them where they are! We worship you wherever we are. The heart of praise and adoration is all you require. Remind us all today that no human boundary can bar us from your presence. We are invited to come boldly before you, as we are, where we are. It is your grace that invites us and then prepares us for your presence. God, thank you for coming to our space first, in Jesus, so that we can come to yours! In Jesus!”