By Cantor Nancy Abramson
Davening at the Kotel has never had much meaning for me until I joined Women Of the Wall on Rosh Hodesh Sh’vat. Throughout Shacharit, I was near tears as phrases jumped out of the siddur, full of new meaning. “The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem, gathers Israel’s dispersed (Psalm 147).” There I stood in the rebuilt Old City, with women gathered in prayer from all over the world. “Cause a new light to illumine Zion and may we all share a portion of its radiance.” I was in Zion, with its incredible winter morning light, reflecting on the miracle of a minyan of women chanting Shacharit at the Kotel.
But it was during Hallel, when I had the honor of leading this community in prayer, that I felt truly transformed. We sang “Acclaim the Lord for God is good. God’s love endures forever (Psalm 118),” and I felt the love in the group of women, strangers to me but united in praise and song. When the police officer “protecting” us came over and asked me to sing more quietly, I just smiled and aimed my voice to bounce off the stones of the Kotel. I do admit that it was comforting that the next line of the psalm was “The Lord is with me, I shall not fear; what can mortals do to me?”
Thank you to the visionary women of WOW for accepting me into your circle, for giving me the kavod of davening Hallel, and for leading the way for Jewish women to pray without fear.