Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Women of the Wall

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Have you heard about the Women of the Wall?   What about Women for the Wall?  I don't know how you feel about women praying tallit, or tefilin, or what your beliefs are about the Western Wall.  I can make some guesses, but I'd like to believe that this blog can be a space for all types of people raising Jewish children.  So, I won't go into any type of debate about whether they should be there, or the halahic aspects of women reading torah.

But I will say that this they had a shabbat that was significant.  That women gathered together to pray at the Western Wall in droves.  A debate that has been raging through generations.

I've been to the Western Wall.  I've prayed my silent prayers, and participated in a havdalah there as well.  My first time was when I was 11 years old.  I remember walking up, touching it, finding it most interesting that the top and the bottom were different colors and textures (where people can touch and where they can't reach).  I remember being with my mom and sister, and thinking slightly sadly about my father, who was all alone on the other side.  I remember turning around and walking away, slightly more excited about the beautiful golden lions we had passed on the way down here, and whether I could climb on top of his back on the way back up the stairs.

The second time was when I was 26 years old.  I went to Israel as part of Birthright, and as a large group we visited the wall. We were a large group, people I had just met a few days before.  No clear idea of what to do, where to go, how to make the experience meaningful.  More engaged with taking pictures, then praying.  I remember the soldiers, and the people. 

The last time was also when I was 26 years old.  This time I remember thinking very intently about the experience.  I remember being very specific to ensure my arms were covered, my head was covered.  I remember walking up to the wall, then walking away without turning my back.  I remember feeling connected to something bigger, and moved by the stones.  I enjoyed the quiet of shabbat.  I joined a havdalah and spent the evening engaged in Israel as it can only be on a Saturday night after sundown.

I think the wall is an important Jewish symbol.  I think that being at the wall can be a profound experience.  I hope that someday you say 'next year in Jerusalem' at Passover- and that you really go.

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