Missing the Wall & The Religious Misogynists’ Arresting Development, WOW supporter Jonah Rank

Today, I missed the Wall.

While living in Jerusalem for the academic year, I’ve made it a point to pray each month with Women Of the Wall.

After my first time praying with WOW (a great acronym), I realized that I was in a truly special place at a special time, with special people. This was not an experience I could keep to myself. I had to share it with others.

The excitement of challenging a corrupt system. The fear that doing the right thing endangered us. The awe of standing in front of two and a half millennia of Jewish history. The doubt of sanctity in a place where so many have acted unjustly in the name of God. The hope that we can be a light unto others, and the worry that the future may be as dark as the present.

So much life in one small plaza. How could I experience so much and  tell others nothing of what I saw?

To read more, click here.

Jonah Rank is a musician and a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, currently spending the academic year in Jerusalem studying at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary. An avid blogger, Jonah writes for his own personal website andOholiav: A Community for Viewing Arts & Entertainment Through a Jewish Lens, which Jonah co-founded. Intensely passionate about enabling Jews to live meaningful and inclusive Jewish lives, Jonah first became aware of Women of the Wall through reading news reports about the treatment of women and religious pluralism at the Western Wall. Recognizing Women of the Wall as a medium through which to engage both in prayer with the Divine, and in conversations with those who pray at the Western Wall, Jonah has committed to pray alongside Women of the Wall throughout his year in Israel, to stand as a peacekeeper in the Men’s section, where the intentions of Women of the Wall are gradually coming to be better understood.

1 thought on “Missing the Wall & The Religious Misogynists’ Arresting Development, WOW supporter Jonah Rank”

  1. Jonah, I’m afraid you are misinformed about the issue of a woman’s wearing a tallit in the women’s section of the Wall. It is indeed a crime, not Jewishly, but forbidden by a ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court for reasons of “public safety.” The police are doing their duty by enforcing the law. And yes, indeed, they saw something dangerous in Deb Houben’s wearing a tallit — a threat to public safety. While we may believe that it is an unjust law, it is the law nonetheless, and for now, a woman’s wearing a tallit in the women’s section of the Wall is clearly a legal offense.

    I wish it were otherwise.

    The police do their best to keep those you call the misogynists safely away from the divider on the men’s side and away from the WOW service on the women’s side. They do not want WOW’s prayer services to ignite a religious war. Two months ago, Anat Hoffman presented the policeman who has watched over us for several years with a going away gift as he was being rotated to a new position. As someone who has attended the WOW services on many occasions, I can attest that over the years the level of physical and verbal violence against us has declined and the police have often intervened to protect us from harassment.

    I believe that the police don’t want you to talk to the misogynists in order to keep passions on a low flame while the women are on the scene. The police accompany us off the site and generally do not intervene when we leave the area singing. If you want to talk to the “misogynists”, nothing prevents you from doing so after the women have left and they are no longer “provoking” an extreme emotional reaction.

    I am glad you see yourself as a peacekeeper in the men’s section. But labels such as “misogynist” are not helpful. It is important to understand that our opponents are acting from an entirely different value orientation from the one we espouse. They do not believe that historical events such as the enlightenment have anything to do with Judaism and would ridicule anyone who thinks it should. It is as much a foreign influence as the Ba’al worshippers. I disagree, but it is always good to understand your opponent.

    I believe the battle being fought by the Women of the Wall is legitimate and just. Nonetheless, if you look at it from the perspective of the people who come to the Wall daily, WOW is a tiny upstart group that represents a foreign seed that needs to be rooted out. They claim that the values of egalitarianism that we espouse are feminist not Jewish, and that we have confused Western values with Jewish ones.

    Israel is a work in progress. We who support Women of the Wall need to show that we are indeed acting within the Jewish tradition and that we are not importing foreign ideas. I believe that In another generation, what is so clear to us from the west, will become clear here too.

    So may it be God’s will.

Leave a Comment

Skip to content