Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Women of the Wall

This morning was the 20th anniversary of the Women of the Wall. Today, Rosh Chodesh Adar, the beginning of the month of great joy, we davened (prayed) together at the Kotel, the Western Wall, in quite a large group, Israeli women and many women rabbis from the CCAR convention and also rabbinic and cantorial students studying in Jerusalem.

We stood near the back of the women's section to pray the morning service, including the Hallel psalms, in quiet but proud voices. Many of our male colleagues came too and stood behind the wall, joining our prayer in almost a reverse mechitza (separation barrier). We wore tallitot and kippot. Young girls wearing long skirts stared and giggled and debated what they saw. "They're not Reformim," a girl told her friend. "They are something different."

Policewomen, guarding the "sanctity of the place" shouted and gestured for us to stop. "No singing!" And in typical Israeli fashion, continued to stand and yell even as the praying continued. A male policeman was brought in (why was this ok?) to help quiet us down....but it didn't work and we finished the praying relatively peacefully. (I took video, which maybe I will be able to upload later today or else when I get home.)

Then we walked together to the Southern part of the excavation of the Western Wall. Standing under Robinson's Arch we read Torah, the reading for Rosh Chodesh, sharing aliyot and singing in a loud voice, joined by our male colleagues whose voices mingled with the female ones.

The Torah used by Women of the Wall is carried in a duffel bag (a very holy and sturdy green duffel bag) and after it was placed in the bag it was passed around to kiss before itwas spirited away to someone's car. Many torah scrolls live on the men's side of the Kotel but only this one is used by the women and it is carried back and forth.

I had the honor for a few moments of carrying the Torah in its canvas bag. Its weight felt perhaps even more heavy than a usual Torah scroll, bearing the weight of so many women's years of striving....

Mish'nuchnas Adar marbim b'simcha
As Adar comes in, our joy increases.
And so it was a truly joyous experience.


John Sklar said...

You brought tears to my eyes.

Unknown said...

Thanks for, once again, inspiring my own blog writing: Continue to have a fabulous time, eat a falafel and chips for me, and get home safely!

Anonymous said... bore the weight of so many women...

I'm glad you were able to carry the Torah.