- By Alli Cohen, rabbinical student attending Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The first year of the program is spent at HUC’s Jerusalem campus. From her blog.
It is 1:15AM, and I just returned home from the Hadassah and WOW Women’s Night at the Kotel so filled with emotion. At the same time, both anger and passion encompass me, and all I can hope for is that one day things will be different. However, all I can be sure of is that I will continue fighting for what I believe in.
As an HUC-WOW liaison, I gathered about ten volunteers to help usher in the Hadassah women and song-lead for what was to be a spiritual and peaceful event. It may have not been peaceful, but it was definitely moving! This evening was supposed to commemorate the joining together of women from all different backgrounds to be one at the Kotel. Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, has assembled in Jerusalem for Hadassah’s 100th Anniversary, and tonight we had hoped to celebrate womanhood together!
We continued with the V’ahavta and exited out after Anat singing “Ozi v’zimrat Yah” [defined as “My Strength (balanced) with the Song of God will be my salvation (Psalm 118:14 & Exodus 15:2)”] (Translation from Rabbi Shefa Gold). We stood in the main courtyard as tensions exacerbated. Security guards stood all around and Orthodox women yelled at us for singing out loud. One WOW representative explained to the Hadassah women what had taken place, thanking them for attending and supporting our cause.
More buses had arrived and Hadassah women entered into the courtyard expecting to attend the spiritual, song-filled event, only to find shouting and chaos all around. I saw one Hadassah member, about my age, watching the yelling of the Orthodox women. I went up to her and asked if she could translate for me what exactly they were saying. She saw my WOW nametag, thanked me for supporting the organization and threw her arms around me. We were both so shaken, filled with rage at the hatred around us, but in that moment of uproar, two strangers stood united! Just then her mother came over and asked if we knew each other. The girl answered, “No” but that we had bonded. She was right! I looked about to see Hadassah women of all ages, mixed with HUC students, all in conversation. We truly were united.
awe: “an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)