Standing Today with Women of the Wall

Today, armed with my umbrella against the pouring rain, I arrived to the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem at 7 a.m. to participate in a prayer for Rosh Chodesh Tevet organized by the Women of the Wall.  I don’t usually come to Women of the Wall, but I came this month answering the call to come and support the group after a member was arrested last month for visibly wearing a talit and openly carrying a Torah scroll at the site.  I would guess there were about 100 women there, standing together at the back of the women’s section.  There were policeman standing around us. 

Things started calmly until men in black coats and hats started shouting from the men’s side (in Hebrew) “Be ashamed!  Get out of here!” and something which sounded like a “Gonorrhoea!” over and over again.  One man ran into the women’s section shouting, “They’re wearing talitot outside their jackets!  The High Court ruling forbid it!  They must obey the law!”  I smiled wryly at this claim – since when has the law of the land stopped right-wing religious zealots from acting according to their own designs?  Then, the women’s voices raised together in song and it drowned out the shouting.

Later on, Ultra-Orthodox women came and shouted at the group, “Son’ei Yisrael — Haters of Israel!  You are degrading this holy place!”  I shouted back, “Ahavat Chinam — Only baseless love!”  One woman pushed her way into the group of prayers shouting “I’ve come to disturb you!”  One woman pushed her way in and started hitting and pushing the prayers.  The police pulled them away and formed a line between the prayers and the harassers.

At the end of the prayer, a women took the Torah which was hidden in a duffel bag, and, with women on either side of her, began the procession from the Western Wall plaza to outside toward the entrance to the Davidson Archaeological Center (an extension of the Western Wall which is a tourist site and also a place where I officiate at egalitarian bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies).  We became a procession of women singing songs of hope through the words of the Bible — “I lift up my eyes – from where will my help come?  My help comes from G-d.” (Psalm 121:1-2).  “My strength and song is from G-d, and (G-d) will be my savior.”  (Exodus 15:2).  As we walked, there were men who joined us in support.  A line of policemen accompanied us, and on the other side, there was a stream of men who continued to shout. 

As we walked, I felt something hard brush my head (the umbrella shielded me) and I saw a potato roll to the ground – someone had thrown it at us.  I picked up the potato and waved it back at the men.  From this potato, I’ll make some latkes on this final night of Chanukah – “Furious they assailed us, But Your arm availed us, And Your word, Broke their sword…”

I believe that the complex surrounding the site of the two ancient temples is a spiritual place and a place that should be special to Jews everywhere.  I stood today for the right for ALL Jews to find their spiritual home at this site as well as in the holy city of Jerusalem as a whole.  Let us join all of our voices together so that truly “Torah will go out from Zion.” (Isaiah 2:3)

Click on this link to see the event on Israel Channel 2 News (I appear for 2 seconds) http://www.mako.co.il/news-channel2/Friday-Newscast/Article-6c74efa0fc2a521004.htm&Partner=rss

If you want to learn more about this cause, visit – http://womenofthewall.org.il/

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8 Responses to “Standing Today with Women of the Wall”

  1. Daphna Shezaf Says:

    Stacey! Mazal Tov for the new blog!
    Thank you for defending our rights actively – and thank you for recounting the events in such an inspirational way.
    Personally, I think we should be careful to obey the Supreme Court decisions even if the other side has no real respect for the law. Though, yes, it’s irritating when the cling to these decisions only when they suit their needs.

  2. Ezra Says:

    You go girl! Thanks for sending me this. I’m proud of you and all the holy sisters like you courageous enough to turn the other cheek and let love prevail. Yours in solidarity.
    Reb Ezra

  3. Stacey Says:

    It’s a sad state of affairs when members of our own religion are shouting and throwing things at one another. You were brave to stay out there, amidst the tumult. I’d like to hope that all of the Jews living in Israel will come to an understanding with each other so you can co-exist.

    BTW: I’m looking forward to having you as a fellow blogger!

  4. Shir Yaakov Says:

    Righteous. Thank you.

  5. Jeff Brown Says:

    Stacey: Mazel Tov on the blog, and Yesher Koach for standing strong with Women of the Wall. The intolerance of the hareidim is so shockingly shameful to me – especially in the way that they express it (the hurling of potatoes!!) that it is hard for me to believe that these things actually happen. (Thankfully you showed up today as a witness to all of this.)

    I’m not sure if there are any food ingredients that are associated with the feminist cause, but if you can somehow throw that into your latkes tonight, you have the making for a feminist-inspired cookbook down the line…. :o)

    Hugs to Tamir and Yaron – Jeff

  6. Claire Says:

    Dear Rabbi Stacey, I live at your Aunt Arlene’s complex in Florida. I have two grown daughters and certainly both of them and myself agree with your view and actions of your group. Keep it up and maybe someday things will change…Best of luck, Claire

  7. Jamie Says:

    Good for you! I hope those latkes were delicious!

  8. Benjamin Sperber Says:

    Dear Rabbi (for you are my Rav, I joined CDN Nov 24, ’09)

    You are a woman of valor and as courageous as any Jew.

    Be brave and safe and may your new building shine with the light
    of Torah.

    We in Los Angeles support you.

    Benjamin

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