Voices: Jesse, 14 years old, NJ

Dear Women of the Wall,

I just got the picture of the soldiers after the six day war. I think it is
really cool that you got the original photographer of the famous picture to take the picture of you guys with the Torah and your Tallit by the wall. I hope one day that in the future, when men and women both pray together at the wall, that a photograph as such will become equally famous.

Recently (this past year) I graduated from Jewish Day School (Hebrew
Academy of Morris County), and went (last April) on the eighth grade class trip, to Israel. It was truly an amazing trip, we went from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem to Masada, and more. I could write a book of stories, but I have two that I think pertain to you guys.

I brought my Taillit, which my grandmother had gotten me for my Bat Mitzvah (8/27/11). My Tallit is from you guys, and has the four matriarchs on the four corners. Everywhere that I could (and we prayed a lot of places) pray with my
Tallit, I did. Even though I couldn’t use at the Kotel (and I truly admire the guts it takes you guys to do so), I was able to pray with it at a different (lesser known and vastly unknown) part of the wall (where the marketplace was in ancient times), and also at the (standing, just not very famous) Southern wall.

It was shocking to see the contrast on the different sides on the Mechetzah at the Kotel. On the men’s side, there was dancing and singing and services and joy, on the women’s side they had to pray quietly, many crying. I hope
that one day, when people travel to Israel, they will not see the contrast, both sides will be full of joy.

Another place I prayed with my Tallit was Masada. We got up really early, and started walking up Masada at dawn. Our group had a Torah brought up, so we could have a service. In the old temple the Masadeans had used thousands of years ago, we held a Torah service. Enclosed is a picture of myself (with my Tallit on), and my friend, praying. I think my picture symbolizes so much, because unlike the Kotel, at Masada, boys and girls (it was a co-ed school and trip), Sefardi and Ashkenazi, can pray with a Tallit, and read from the Torah. I hope that someday, that when women, young and old will be able pray side by side with men at the Kotel if they choose as I was able to at Masada.

I wish you the best of luck with your efforts,

Jesse Plichta-Kellar

1 thought on “Voices: Jesse, 14 years old, NJ”

  1. Jesse, You are an amazing person, and an eloquent writer, too. I hope all your HAMC classmates and HAMC alumni will gather together with you in solidarity for Women of the Wall. You must let students and their parents know that all the wonderful pious acts you were trained to do in Jewish Day school and in your synagogue: to pray aloud, to read Torah, to wear a tallit—will get you arrested at the Kotel in Jerusalem. So many people simply don’t know, or if they do, they don’t realize how much it diminishes Jewish women’s spirituality.
    Vanessa L. Ochs (parent of HAMC grads)

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