Mmm, WotW was extra lovely indeed. Lots of friends showed up (I think they had to cancel the egal minyan at one yeshiva b/c all the women were coming to the Kotel today), and I had the great honor of leading both Shacharit and Musaf. It’s always so humbling just to be at the Wall with all of these incredible women, and all the more so with the weight of being shaliach tzibbur (leading prayers) on me. Standing at the place of worship and utmost longing for thousands of years of Jews, and getting to raise my voice in song and praise, to lead others in prayer–it’s amazing. We don’t know for sure what happened in Ezrat HaNashim (the Women’s Courtyard of the ancient Jerusalem Temple), it’s possible that there were women leading some sort of worship there, or in the 2000 years since by the Kotel. But it’s just as likely, perhaps more likely, that we’re the first real generation of women ever, in history, who have lead worship so at this site–singing loud, hymns and hallelujahs. It’s amazing. The mind truly boggles. I am so grateful, and so lucky.
According to the current status of the Supreme Court decisions, (possibly to change–I’ve heard rumors that the current plans for excavations might affect the Robinson’s Arch area, but I could be wrong about that–don’t quote me on it!), after praying Shacharit and Hallel at the Kotel, WotW is to go over to the Robinson’s Arch area by the side to read Torah, pray Musaf, and put on gear (tallitot, tefillin, etc.) We have one little corner of the Arch area–lots of other groups come as well to the Arch in order to pray in a mixed-gender environment, since the Kotel itself is divided (with, of course, about twice as much of the Kotel courtyard taken up by the men’s section. Naturally.)
Today there was what looked to be a youth group trip–high school-aged folk, I’d guess–and a bat mitzvah, respectively. As one of the WotW members observed, it really was a miracle to see so much Jewish life, so much prayer, so much happening around these old, old stones.
Our Torah reading was punctuated by the sound of drums and shofars in the distance; a bunch of hippie hasid types (I’d guess they were Breslovers but I could be wrong) were having a big ol’ jam session over on the far end of the Kotel plaza. As we left Robinson’s Arch, we shook our little booties for a couple of minutes before heading out of the Old City.
×–×” ×”×™×•× ×¢×©×” ×”â€™, × ×’×™×œ×” ×•× ×©×ž×—×” ×‘×•.
This is the day that God made; let us rejoice and be happy in it.
This is wonderful. Yasher koach on leading a service, and yasher koach to those who showed up. Now that space has been allocated to women within the Jewish tradition, really behooves us who are able to, to occupy that space and reclaim that God given freedom we had to worship with song and dance b’tzibbur–as Miriam and the women of Israel had during the Exodus. The Orthodox shul I attend is desperately trying to get women to occupy the space that it has made for women’s learning and is exhorting them to attend daf yomi. Unfortunately, women don’t seem to be interested…personally I have been blasted by other women who have accused me for going because of wanting to enter the prestige of “a boys’ club”! But it’s not about arrogance–it’s about reclaiming the space and the tradition that was given to us by God, and not about trying to buck the status quo.
Zac: nashot = women
How do you balance the psychological and halakhic issue of not being able to wear tefillin and tzitzit during shaharit & hallel against the ability to daven them at the kotel (or, more precisely, in the main section)? In what ways does the latter outweigh the former?
Obviously, it’s a preference (psychologically and halakhically) to daven Shacharit with full gear on. Even at the Kotel, I already have tzitzit on (I wear a tallit katan) and like one or two other folks who daven at WotW, I untuck them just before Kryiat Shema, so that I can say the third paragraph of the Shema while looking at/kissing on them. The tefillin is a problem, but I do get yotzei on tefillin during the Torah reading, and for me the importance of including my prayers that one day all women will be able to have equal status at the Kotel (and using my body as a way to enact those prayers, by showing up to WotW) is important enough that, once a month, I’m willing to make a halakhic compromise. I wouldn’t do it every day, but I do hold my obligation to pursue justice as not unrelated to my obligation to pray, and as such I’m willing to navigate this in order to be able to join WotW.