THERE WERE NO performers with carefully synchronized dance steps, but on Oct. 22 at 1 p.m., a “flash mob” gathered in South Orange to chant the Sh’ma in Hebrew and English to protest the arrest of Anat Hoffman, founder and organizer of the Women of the Wall in Jerusalem.
The assembling on Sloan Street of the group of 20 people was planned by Rabbi Francine Roston of Congregation Beth El in South Orange. The chanting of the prayer in unison, she said, was in celebration “of our freedom to gather and our freedom of religion.” In a message sent to the Beth El community, she continued, “We are also reciting the Sh’ma in honor of Anat Hoffman and Women of the Wall in Jerusalem who are fighting for the right to recite the Sh’ma anywhere in Israel as well!”
Hoffman was arrested Oct. 16 while leading a group of women from Hadassah in recitation of the Sh’ma and charged with disturbing the peace.
“When I recite the Sh’ma tomorrow,” Roston wrote, “I will be reciting it with love for Israel in my heart and the prayer that our Jewish homeland will improve its domestic policies regarding freedom of religious expression.”
While most of the people taking part in the “mob” were members of Beth El, two were from Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex in Caldwell.
The group plans to give a video from the event to Hoffman, who will speak at Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Montclair on Sunday, Nov. 11.