Thursday, June 16, 2016

An open letter to The Women of the Wall:

When you look at the picture of me garbed as a traditionally Orthodox Jewish woman no doubt you think you have very little in common with me.  That, however, is a mistake. I share with you the love of my Jewishness and a desire to draw closer to the Almighty. I, too, am pulled to the Kotel and consider my weekly prayers there among the best of my conversations with my Maker.

Not only that, at one time I proudly read from a Torah scroll. It wasn’t at the Kotel but rather at the reform temple where I grew up. A child of the congregation I shocked the members when, as a teenager, I insisted on having a turn to hold and dance with the Torah on Simchat Torah, just like the men.

That was my attitude then. I wanted to be like the men. And so I can understand there are women who aren’t satisfied to leave outward rituals to the male population. My friend’s granddaughter, for example, neared the age of Bat Mitzvah and wanted to read from the Torah, something not uncommon for the girls of her congregation. She wouldn’t do so in the main hall of the synagogue. Rather, the service was held in a special women’s minyan* attended by female friends and relatives. All this was done with the guidance of her family’s rabbi well versed in Jewish law.

Another good friend also longs for a close relationship with The Almighty and therefore dons a skullcap and prayer shawl when she’s moved to pray. Although I’m sympathetic to her desire I wonder why she has put the skullcap and prayer shawl above more basic commandments like keeping kosher and observing the laws of family purity. 

It’s not with a skullcap or prayer shawl that I choose to feel close to G-d. Rather, my approach is to work on observing His commandments properly. I believe I am getting nearer my goal by learning Torah, writing articles to inspire others in their relationship with Him, and trying to do acts of kindness. Probably my biggest challenge is guarding my speech and using it for building, not for slander.

It’s that point that impels me to write my letter. I would like to think that all of you are acting with a sincere desire to draw closer to the Almighty. Unfortunately, though, much of your public relations campaign leaves me doubtful.  Your tirades against respected rabbis make me uncomfortable. And your subtle distortions of truth make me suspicious.

You declare Rabbi Rabinowitz is putting you in a catch-22 position by refusing to let you bring a Torah from outside to the Kotel and at the same time barring the transfer of scroll from the men’s section to the women’s one. You neglect to mention that it’s forbidden for ANYONE to bring a personal Torah scroll to the Kotel without coordinating in advance with the office of the Rabbi of the Kotel.

Your plea for the Israeli government to take action now to implement the deal that the government reached in January to establish a permanent, egalitarian, non-Orthodox prayer space at the Western Wall is emotionally stirring. However, you steadfastly ignore the fact that the Azarat Yisroel Plaza has been open to the public for just that purpose for several years already.** Why aren’t you taking your Torah scroll there?
I’ve asked you this question before on your website and again on facebook. It wasn’t answered. Perhaps no one saw my query. Maybe no one thought it was worth answering. Still, I will continue to ask. Someday, I know, someone will answer me.

*quorom of ten
** to view a clip of the site :

courtesy of

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