Hoffman is a Sabra born on a kibbutz near Jerusalem in 1954. Her mother, Varda Blechman, was the first child born at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel (Hebrew: רָמַת רָחֵל, lit. Rachel's Heights). Her American-born father, Charles Weiss, served as a Voice of America correspondent in Israel. She attended the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. She also excelled as a competitive athlete, becoming a champion swimmer. She competed in the Maccabiah Games, winning titles in nine events.
In 1974, after she completed her service in the Israel Defense Forces, she and her husband at the time, Michael, left for the United States to study. She graduated from UCLA in 1980 with a B.A. in Psychology. While at UCLA, she was connected to Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and started the Israeli Student Organization. She was exposed to Reform Judaism and realized for the first time that Judaism was not limited to Orthodoxy.
She later pursued graduate study at Bar Ilan University.
Returning to Israel, she became an activist for religious pluralism, becoming involved in the founding of Kol Haneshema, a Reform or progressive synagogue in Jerusalem. She served on the Jerusalem City Council from 1988 to 2002, representing the Civil Rights and Peace Movement.
In the late 1980s she led a campaign for consumer rights with regard to Bezeq, the Israeli telecommunications company that had a monopoly, and refused to offer customer itemized bills. Hoffman complained, on behalf of consumers, that they were paying for items they had not used. In the end, she prevailed and Bezeq issued itemized bills to customers.
Anat Hoffman is chair of the Domari Society of Gypsies in Jerusalem. Additionally, prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords, Hoffman was the chairwoman of Women in Black, an international women's anti-war movement with an estimated 10,000 activists around the world. The first group was formed by Israeli women in Jerusalem in 1988, following the outbreak of the First intifada.
She was a member of the group that started Women of the Wall in December 1988. Women of the Wall is a group of women from around the world who are working to secure the right to pray in their fashion at the Western Wall, wearing prayer shawls and other religiously significant garments, singing and reading from the Torah collectively. When Israel's Supreme Court ruled in favor of Women of the Wall, Orthodox leaders and rabbis protested the decision. Arrested multiple times for wearing a prayer shawl at the Wall, Hoffman was defended by the Anti-Defamation League, which issued a statement saying that reports of her treatment, at the hands of Israeli police, were especially disturbing.
Since 2002 Hoffman has served as Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center, which was founded in 1987 as the public and legal advocacy arm of the movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel. It is dedicated to promoting equality, justice, religious freedom.On women airline passengers being asked to move so Orthodox Jewish men need not sit next to them: believes women should not give up their seats. Airlines should comply with non-discrimination laws. She has initiated a campaign encouraging women not to give up their seats for religious sensibilities.
State financed religious councils in Israel: I don't believe there should be state-financed religious councils. If they are financed by the Government to provide services they should be incorporated into the municipalities. But still, if they are to exist, then they should be open and democratic and representative.