Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center and chair of Women of the Wall, was today named Haaretz.com's "Person of the Year." Haaretz reports that Anat, who was up against five others for the title, recieved more than 70% of the vote.
As head of Women of the Wall, Hoffman’s efforts over the past year to secure equal praying rights for women at the Kotel, Jerusalem’s Western Wall, were at the focal point of media attention and public debate in both the Jewish Diaspora and Israel itself. Her outspoken championing of religious pluralism and gender equality – including several arrests by the Israel police - have galvanized American liberal Jews, for whom Hoffman has become a celebrated Jewish heroine.
No less significantly, the success of Hoffman’s tactics has also captured the attention of many Israelis, highlighting the ongoing struggle for religious pluralism and gender equality in Israeli life.
"The people who voted for me voted for the idea of religious freedom and equality -- an idea whose time has come," said Hoffman upon learning that she was voted Haaretz's Person of the Year. She said she owed the honor to "all my board members, all our founders who are in United States, all the hundreds of women who pray with us every month, all the thousands who show solidarity with us abroad, and of course, all the men who have supported us for 25 years."
Other contenders for Person of the Year included: the founders of Waze, the Israeli navigation app recently acquired by Google; Tzipi Livni, Israel's Minister of Justice; Yair Lapid, Israel's Finance Minister; Dror Moreh, director of Israeli documentary The Gatekeepers; and American businessman Sheldon Adelson, chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation.
Photo by Gali Eytan