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When a Woman Cannot Mourn

The Israeli multi-denominational Women of the Wall group holds a prayer service in Gan Miriam, Jerusalem. Participants in Orthodox women's tefillah groups wishing to maximize women’s participation in communal prayer while remaining within the halakhic parameters of the Orthodox community meet regularly to conduct prayer services for women only.
Courtesy of Joan Roth.

The Women of the Wall have been fighting for a woman’s right to pray at the Western Wall since 1988.

Today’s featured poet, Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff, responds to the latest challenge facing these women- the right to say Kaddish and mourn at the Western Wall.


When a woman cannot mourn.... 

The stones of the earth will shake. 

The rains will flood 

The seas will swell 

The earth will open 

The Shekhina will wail! 

She will moan... 

Until every woman can cry 

Until every woman can sing 

Until every woman can laugh 

So deeply that every man will feel 

Called from the depths of his soul 

To cry with her 

To sing with her 

To laugh with her 

And to dance with her 

Before the sun 

Before the moon 

Standing in the River of Life, 

Holiness beating in their hearts. 

Their bodies dust, 

Their breath divine.


Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff and the Women of the Wall are not the first Jewish women to address the role of women in the mourning ritual. Take a look at how Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold, one of JWA's "Women of Valor," felt about saying Kaddish.



Topics: Prayer, Poetry
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How to cite this page

Rudick Zunikoff, Jennifer. "When a Woman Cannot Mourn." 5 April 2013. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 3, 2024) <http://jwa.org/blog/when-woman-cannot-mourn>.