April 19, 2014 · 19 Nisan

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Anat Hoffman Meets with IRAC's U.S. Partners
Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israeli Religious Action Center (IRAC),the public and legal advocacy arm of Reform Judaism in Israel, has embarked on a two-week trip to the United States.
Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israeli Religious Action Center (IRAC),the public and legal advocacy arm of Reform Judaism in Israel, has embarked on a two-week trip to the United States.

 

Anat Hoffman’s distinguished career as a public servant began long before she became Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center in 2002.  As a Jerusalem City Councilwoman for 14 years, Hoffman quickly became known as an inexhaustible warrior for justice and equality.  She worked to ensure that the powerful Orthodox bloc in the City Council did not dictate lifestyle choices for Jerusalem’s secular population; she fought to guarantee adequate municipal services for the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem; and even in this city divided by religious disagreement, she has struggled for recognition of religious pluralism. 

 

Furthermore, Anat Hoffman was a founding member of Women of the Wall, a group of women from all denominations, which fights for the right of women to pray as a group at the Western Wall.  She has served on the Boards of the Israel Women’s Network, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and many other organizations that work to protect the rights of the disenfranchised and despised.

 

Anat Hoffman will begin her visit to the U.S. in New York where she will meet with Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism.  She will then travel to Washington D.C. where she will meet with her D.C. counterparts at the Religious Action Center (RAC). 

 

Hoffman will finish her trip in Los Angeles.  Her visit to L.A. is a homecoming of sorts, since she will be returning to her alma mater, UCLA.  Indeed, it was at UCLA that Hoffman, a native Israeli who was raised in a secular household, was first exposed to Reform Judaism.  Hoffman credits the UCLA Hillel and its long-time Director, Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, as having been instrumental in her religious awakening.  She will be spending an evening meeting with her former mentor and students involved in UCLA Hillel.

 

During her 10 days in the Los Angeles area, Hoffman will also serve as scholar-in-residence at two Reform synagogues, Temple Isaiah and Temple Emanuel.  While discussing a range of topics, Hoffman will particularly focus on updating these communities about the state of religious conversions in Israel.  Currently, only Orthodox conversions are fully recognized by the Jewish state.  However, the Israel Religious Action Center has waged a long battle for recognition of Reform and Conservative conversions. This battle is coming to a head as IRAC has brought the issue to the Israeli Supreme Court which is set to rule on the matter in the near future. While 80% of American Jewry affiliates with either the Reform or the Conservative Movement, the Orthodoxy's political control of this issue in Israel has meant that conversions of these movements are not recognized as legitimate by the Israeli government, perpetuating the sense that the non-Orthodox are “second-class Jews” in the Jewish state.

 

Posted by Joel Katz, Coordinator Overseas Relations of the Israel Religious Action Center



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