Torah photo campaign
In July 2010, Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of Women Of the Wall was arrested for holding a Sefer Torah at the Kotel. In the aftermath of this event, Women Of the Wall initiated a campaign to have women around the world send photographs of themselves holding a Sefer Torah, along with a letter of solidarity to political and religious leaders in Israel. The letter, sent to Binyamin Netanyahu, Rubi Rivlin, Tzipi Livni, Natan Sharansky, and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, read as follows:
I am writing today to tell you that Women of the Wall are not alone. Our daughters and our rabbis, our mothers and our grandmothers, our cantors and our teachers hold the Torah, read from the Torah, and study the Torah every day. Hundreds of thousands of women and young girls embrace our Torah Scrolls while their prayers reverberate in our synagogues. We pray without disturbance, without fear. Our prayer is seen as normal and accepted. Only in Jerusalem do women pray with fear and only in Jerusalem are women treated as criminals for practicing Judaism. On Rosh Hodesh Av 5770 we experienced unthinkable abuse by the very political and legal system that we, as Jews of the world, established to offer sanctuary and to initiate the renewal of modern Jewish life. How is it that as Jewish women, we are free in Berlin, in Rome, and in Chicago, while in Jerusalem it is illegal and profane for us to read from the Torah? We will continue to send you pictures from our families, synagogues, and communities. You will see women read, study and embrace Torah Scrolls. On our faces will be joy; not the expression of horror captured by journalists as police took a woman holding a Torah into custody We ask you to open your eyes and see what is ordinary every place else in the world: women embracing Torah, reading from the Torah, rejoicing with the Torah and learning from the Torah. We ask that you see and be blind no more to the injustice of religious oppression.
Thousands of women responded to our call. Emails and photos poured in. Women lined up at their synagogues to hold the Torah, some for their first time.
Below are links to articles and slideshows about the campaign:
- The Sisterhood Blog in Forward.com
- Temple B’rith Kodesh Slideshow
- Congregation Beth Israel Judea Photo Gallery
- J. Weekly article by Amanda Pazornik
- Rites for Rights by Marla Cohen
- Women Take a Stand with the Torah by Sara Gilbert
- Professional photos on SmugMug
I take the torch that has been passed
onto me and my generation.
The beautiful light of the Torah
to celebrate, cherish, and pray.
I begin to imagine what all of those proud,
brave women like Esther endured
so that we may share
in this beautiful moment.
Heroines among us continue this struggle.
Touched, humbled by the courage
of the Women of the Wall
I stand up to be counted with them.
Anat Hoffman’s story belongs to us all
Jewish mothers, daughters, and sisters
across the globe and across generations.
Her fight is our fight
her struggle is our struggle.
I stand proudly, heart full and glowing
as I did at my Bat Mitzvah.
Arms embracing the Torah,
adorned by beautiful kipah and talit,
I smile a little too easily into the camera.
– Jodie Feinberg
Aliso Viejo, CA
Temple Beth El