I’ve just returned from an amazing morning davening (praying) with Women of the Wall at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem for Rosh Chodesh Adar (the new month, also my birthday month). There were so many women, maybe 200, maybe more, praying and singing together, and men supporting us behind the women’s section and over the barrier to the men’s section; I found it especially moving in a responsive section when the women led and male voices echoed in response.
Some of the IDF servicemen who liberated the Wall in 1967 were among them. But there were police everywhere. Almost as soon as the service began, one policeman pushed himself through the gathering in a very intimidating way, and marked out two women, who linked arms and sat down in protest. No one was arrested though until we were leaving to continue the service (the most ‘offensive’ part, women reading Torah) in a separate place.
Then, out of view of most of us or the media, ten women were arrested for the crime of praying and wearing tallit (prayer shawls) and/or tefillin (prayer straps). Oppressors never seem to learn from history: oppression does not kill the voice of justice, it only inspires more to rise up and raise our voices.
I am grateful to my friend Anne Clark who had the mitzvah (blessing) of being called to the Torah when we eventually had our Torah service, because she is becoming an activist in this movement. I was honoured and feel blessed to have been able to take part in person today. Kol hakavod (all honour) to my brave sisters, and brothers, in the pursuit of justice.