For the past 30 years a group of women have gathered at the Kotel to pray every month on Rosh Chodesh. This group, Women of the Wall, organizes this service every month on Rosh Chodesh to honor the connection women have to this minor holiday and to come together to pray, read from the Torah, sing, dance and celebrate together. Nearly every month, the prayers of Women of the Wall are disrupted by members of the Ultra-Orthodox community who are not comfortable with women reading from the Torah. Nearly every month, there are protests and attacks and violence against these women including many stories that have been shared in the Jewish press.
Personally, I have followed this story very closely for the past few years. I remember when Anat Hoffman came to The Jewish Center a few years ago to speak about her work with Women of the Wall and the Israeli Religious Action Center. She shared stories with us religious pluralism in Israel and how the Ultra-Orthodox have a monopoly on Religious Life. I was inspired as I listened to her stories about this struggle and the great work that she is doing to change the status quo at the Kotel and in other areas of religious life in Israel. Since that day, I have been a donor to Women of the Wall and I now receive educational material and other publicity from them as I learn more about the great work they are doing.
Knowing that this is the 30th year for Women of the Wall, I approached JCW about doing a program together and inviting the congregation to join us. The program will be next Sunday, December 9. We chose that date because it is Rosh Chodesh and on that morning at the Kotel, Women of the Wall will have their service, so we think it is a perfect day for us to have ours. The service will be at 9 AM in the Sanctuary and everyone is invited to join us, including those who attend our regular Sunday morning minyan. The service will include our prayers for Rosh Chodesh including Hallel and Torah Reading. We will also include some thoughts and prayers from Women of the Wall in Jerusalem.
Please consider joining us next Sunday - it is Rosh Chodesh and Hanukah and a great time to come together for an hour of prayer, comradery and solidarity. Women, men, teens and children are welcome to join us and I encourage everyone to join us. Feel free to bring your tallit and tefillin or borrow one from us including a few of the special Women of the Wall Tallitot that we have. I thank JCW for partnering with me and all of you who can join us that morning.
In honor of the 30th Anniversary of Women of the Wall, the following prayer was written. We will include it during our service on December 9th:
May it be Your will, our God and God of our mothers and fathers, to bless this prayer group and all who pray within it - them, their families and all that is theirs, together with all the women and girls of your people Israel.
Strengthen us and direct our hearts to serve You in truth, reverence and love. May our prayer be desirable and acceptable to You like the prayers of our holy Mothers, Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah.
May our song ascend to Your Glorious Throne in holiness and purity, like the songs of Miriam the Prophet, Devorah the Judge, and Hannah in Shilo, and may it be pleasing to you as a sweet savor and fine incense.
And for our sisters, all the women and girls of your people Israel:
Let us merit to see their joy and hear their voices raised before You in song and praise. May no woman or girl be silenced ever again among Your people Israel or in all the world.
God of justice, let us merit to see justice and salvation soon, for the sanctification of Your name and the repair of Your world, as it is written: Zion will hear and be glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, over Your judgments, O God.
And it is written: For Zion's sake I will not be still and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be silent, until her righteousness shines forth like a great light and her salvation like a flaming torch.
For Torah shall go forth from Zion and the word of God from Jerusalem. Amen.
Rabbi Adam Feldman