Sunday, December 20, 2009

Praying with Women of the Wall, Rosh Hodesh Tevet, Dec 18, 2009

Lisa Grant is a member of Congregation B'nai Israel, and Associate Professor of Education at Hebrew Union College, New York.  Lisa is currently in Israel and, after seeing last night's blog entry dedicating the coming week to solidarity blogs with Women of the Wall, she sent me this eye-witness report of being one of the women praying this Rosh Hodesh, on Friday morning at the Kotel.

I arrived in Israel on Thursday night and woke up early Friday morning to attend Rosh Chodesh Tevet services with the Women at the Wall.  In the pouring rain, we were well over 100 strong, with women of all ages, students, mothers, grandmothers.  We gathered at the back of the Women's section at the Kotel, clustered tightly under umbrellas and joined together in prayer surrounded by a chorus of voices shouting out bitter epithets ranging from the rather mild "Shame" and "scum" to the more shocking "Die" and "You're the reason why the Intifada happened."  We were not deterred by either weather or curses and managed to raise our voices together in prayer.  There were a number of police in our midst, who mainly kept telling us to keep our tallitot under our coats.  When we finished Hallel, we began a slow walk out of the Ezrat Nashim towards Robinson's Arch for the Torah service.  On the way, we sang songs of faith and strength in support of our right to freely express ourselves as Jews in the Jewish state.  We were joined by a couple dozen men who walked with us in solidarity.  Other men continued to shout at us and spit on us while the police looked on.  

I shared my umbrella with two young women who kept saying "this is so sad. It just makes me want to cry."  A sad statement indeed, that there were men (and some women) who found it more important to throw insults and slurs our way than to direct their hearts into their own prayer. On this 7th day of Hanukkah we sang out for religious freedom and the right to pray peacefully and respectfully in this most holy of sites that belongs to the entire Jewish people. 
Lisa D. Grant
Associate Professor of Jewish Education
Hebrew Union College - New York

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