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Women of the Wall

Can Jewish Pluralism Be Salvaged?

Every Thursday, the Jewish Standard, a community newspaper catered to the diverse North Jersey and Rockland County Jewish populations, is delivered to my house just in time for Shabbat. When I was younger, I used to look forward to its arrival. I would straighten out the pages and perch on the couch like the adults I saw on television, immersing myself in the cultural happenings of my local Jewish community. 

Politics, You, and a Cup of Cold Brew

Two great loves that I’ve discovered in high school are politics and coffee. These are two critical elements of who I am today, but one would think they rarely intersect. That’s what I thought too—until Stav Shaffir came along and gave Israeli politics a total caffeine jolt. Stav Shaffir is a young female member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament), a star to be sure. 

Deborah Brin

Deborah Brin, one of the first openly gay rabbis, led the first prayer service for Women of the Wall at the Conference for the Empowerment of Jewish Women in 1988.

Rivka Haut, 1942 - 2014

I came to know Rivka over forty years ago, through the learned book that her husband, Rabbi Irwin Haut, wrote about the agunah problem. Whether she influenced him to write or whether his work inducted her into the world of agunah activism, I do not know, but she became increasingly passionate about helping agunot, hands on as well as dealing with the theoretical-halakhic issues.

Judith Berlin Lieberman

As dean of the Shulamith School for Girls, Judith Berlin Lieberman emphasized the importance of Jewish girls getting the same rigorous education in Judaic studies as boys did.

A Civil Sinai

When I became a Woman of the Wall, I became more fully Jewish.

I had been a rabbi for almost 20 years the day I was detained, with nine other women – including my seventeen-year-old daughter – by police for wearing a tallis and praying out loud at the kotel. We were singing the psalms of hallel when a young police officer waved for me to follow her out of the women’s section. I shook my head. She approached me, her hand outstretched. I reached for my daughter who is named for the prayers we sang – Hallel --and together we sat down. The police officer squatted in front of me and asked me to come with her.

Phyllis Chesler

In her controversial book, Women and Madness, Phyllis Chesler argued that the definitions of mental illness, created by men, are often used as a means of controlling and abusing women.

Discovering the Art of Prayer

Adults may scoff, and my friends may hypocritically mock me, but I can never deny that I would want to stand out in a crowd. Whether a college application, a creative thesis for school, or even the food that I bring for lunch, I want to discover a personal uniqueness that I carry so I can have some special pride in my stride. Luckily for me, I can already claim an artistic and spiritual individuality that I bring to the table as a female Jew.

Rosa Parks at the Wall

For as long as I can remember, Rosa Parks has been the star of every social studies lesson. In third grade, we learned about the nice lady who worked as a seamstress and boarded a bus to go home from work. In eighth grade, she was the strong woman who stood up for herself and played a significant role in the civil rights movement. In eleventh grade, we learned that her historic refusal to give up her seat was not random, but planned by civil rights leaders.

But the message of Rosa Parks goes beyond the classroom.

Women and Tallit

Why do some women wear Tallit? Why shouldn’t women wear Tallit? What’s the big deal?

If you’re like me, you probably haven’t spent a lot of time pondering these questions. As someone who falls somewhere outside of regular observance, a tallit, or prayer shawl, isn’t usually on the forefront of my thoughts.  (Even defining a tallit required a quick search of myjewishlearning.com.)

Last week I was lucky enough to join hundreds of Jewish educators at NewCAJE, a peer led conference that brings together educators from all walks of Jewish life. One of the highlights of my time at the conference was attending a session led by Ronni Ticker  entitled “Women of the Wall- What’s the Big Deal?”

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of the Wall." (Viewed on February 11, 2016) <http://jwa.org/tags/women-of-wall>.

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