By Maria Prieto

On March 9, 2011, Bet Shalom held a lecture entitled “Women of the Wall: the Rights of the Jewish Woman” in honor of International Women’s Day. “Women of the Wall,” “Nashot Hakotel” in Hebrew, has demanded the right of women to wear talit, to pray and to read the Torah at the Kotel since 1988.

Bet Shalom, loyal to its commitment to equal rights, has joined the call of Rabbi Eric Yoffie (Union for Reform Judaism President) for all liberal communities around the world to support and publicize the fight of Women of the Wall.

The conference featured Batya Kallus, an active member of “Women of the Wall.” Born in Boston, Batya has lived in Israel since 1991. She currently works as an adviser at Fohs Foundation and became a member of Women of the Wall twenty years ago.

Batya told us about the actions “Women of the Wall” take for the religious rights of the women in Israel and how the Rosh Hodesh ceremony at the Kotel has become an act of affirmation of Jewish Women’s rights in Israel and also the Diaspora.

She reviewed the difficulties they have faced for the past twenty years, the fanatical and intolerant attitudes they have to put up with, the arrests that took place during 2010 (we had the opportunity to see some pictures) and also, as a counterpoint, the caring support and solidarity they receive from men and women worldwide. We were moved by Batya’s testimony and we came to understand not only the commitment of Women of the Wall but their joy and deep love to Judaism.

Those present, more than 50 people, participated actively in the later discussion, asking questions about Israeli legislation, the influence of ultra- Orthodox groups in Israel, and the fight of some movements for civil rights to counteract this influence. There were also many questions about the role that the Jewish woman plays in the different movements of Judaism.

As a result of this meeting, Bet Shalom is organizing a solidarity group with “Women of the Wall” that will meet on Rosh Hodesh in Barcelona. It is coming soon and we expect to have Batya Kallus again with us as well as other members from Israel.

People interested in receiving more information or joining our upcoming activities can contact Bet Shalom at: comunitat@betshalom.cat


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