My post entitled “Arrested for Wearing a Tallit” evoked quite a passionate reaction. In response, I want to point out that “Women of the Wall” is a non denominational organization, looking to provide women with the right to pray at the kotel. Advocating for this right does not make me Reform. I believe that one of Morethodoxy’s principals is inclusivity— engaging all kinds of Jews—those with special needs, disabled, divorced, widowed, Shabbat observant, and those who are still on a journey. Women’s participation, within the framework of halakha, is central to the principal of inclusivity. I understand that the circumstances surrounding Nofrat Frenkel’s arrest in complicated. However, that does not change the fact that women should have the right to daven peacefully at the holiest site in the world. Their presence does not exclude men from praying. There is a mechitza separating men and women. No one is advocating for its removal. So, in the spirit of inclusisvity, why can’t men and women find a way to pray harmoniously side by side?
I have included a letter calling on women to gather together in each of our communities on Thursday December 17th in solidarity with WOW.
The arrest of Nofrat Frenkel for wearing a tallit at the kotel on Rosh Hodesh Kislev compels us to raise our voices and engage our communities in joint action. We invite you to join in a community-wide Day of Solidarity and Support for Women of the Wall (WOW), to take place on Rosh Hodesh Tevet, Thursday December 17th, the sixth day of Chanukah. With this national grassroots initiative, we will express our support for the
rights of the Women of the Wall to assemble at the Kotel and to pray there with dignity, in safety and in shared community.
As with many other women’s grass roots efforts, each community, organization and institution shall develop its own program of prayer or study and shall reach out as widely as possible to its constituencies. For some groups, this day of solidarity and support will be in the manner of WOW, including tefillah and the reading of the Torah. For others, the
program may be a “lunch and learn” text study session; or a women’s Chanukah observance. For yet others, it might be a gathering of three or more friends in a living room or office who will dedicate their joint prayer and/or study to the Women of the Wall. Some communities may want to add to their programs a screening of Yael Katzir’s film, Praying in Her Own Voice.
We ask that you convene a program that shows your support for this initiative. Please share your plans and document your activities by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We also ask that you send a photo of your gathering to Judith Sherman Asher, email@example.com. Please caption the photo with the names of the participants, the date, location of, and information about your program. Feel free to add a short message of support for Women of the Wall. This will greatly strengthen the morale of our sisters is Israel.
We hope you will join in a groundswell of support of American women for the Women of the Wall. We encourage you to send this letter to any other women’s groups who might want to participate. As Rosh Hodesh Tevet takes place during the week of Chanukah, the holiday of religious freedom, what better time to affirm the right of women to raise their voices in prayer at the Wall!
Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson
Director, Women’s Rabbinic Network
Women’s Tefillah Network