For a long time Women of the Wall has been a flash point in Israel and it has finally bubbled up and almost over.
These women have been beaten for having strap marks on their arm from Tefillin. Not even people witnessing them wearing it, just the leftover marks. They have been abused verbally, physically, and by the police for minding their own business on their own side of the mechitza, the ritual divider between men and women.
And for what? Because a small group of people believe their INTERPRETATION if the text is better than others? Because they believe women should not be allowed the joy of reading Torah at the Wall? Unfair.
Now, I straddle an interesting line. My Judaism runs Orthodox but my sensibilities run liberal. In the past I have challenged this male hierarchy in both America and Israel. I touched on that a little in my blog about my father. I wanted to dress as a boy to get on the men’s side to daven. Not to do anything nefarious but because they make it seem like there is something better and more spiritual on the other side. The men attempt to make us feel dirty and wrong. Like there was some inherent sin or mistake we have made as a woman. But I have news for you, people, we aren’t the Catholics. We don’t believe in original sin. There isn’t something wrong with me because I am a woman.
Lest you forget, it was the MEN of Israel that G-d was angry with for building the Golden Calf, not the women. We refused. Our gift? The moon festivals. Frankly, it boils down to me being sick and tired of women having restrictions put on us because men can’t control themselves and are piggish. I am not a raging feminist. I love my long skirts and I embrace the idea that I will cover my hair when I get married. I adore the woman’s side of most shuls (unless we are given a tiny postage stamp with which to conduct our service while watching the children you men don’t have a lick of patience for. I love the female bonding time with my fellow Jewish women (both spiritually and just as friends over the mundane).
I am getting sick and tired of women being punished because men are too weak to learn how to control themselves. And people are right, actions like this make the Ultra-Orthodox (and in this sense, I am using it as a pejorative) look like they took a lesson from the Taliban. Isn’t it your own responsibility to handle yourself?! I personally like this idea… (Thanks Naomi Ragen!)
Maybe this is spilling over today because I am the midst of planning an extended trip to study in Israel and I know this will confront me everyday. Maybe because I just read this article by Naomi Ragen in Moment Magazine about how men feel empowered to physically assault GRANDMOTHERS on the bus to get their way.
Is this how we are raising our children? Is this the future of Judaism? Will it look like Iranian Islam? Will women be forced to have a male family member escort them? Will we be told to wear a burka? I don’t like this image of the future of Judaism and I don’t see that as being sustainable. While I respect most forms of ultra-orthodoxy for their commitment to Judaism and their connection to the past, and while I certainly don’t want to see that disappear, it disturbs me to see them come into MY world and tell ME what I can and cannot do. Why is the minority forcing their will on the majority and why aren’t we saying anything about it?
I am an ardent Israel supporter. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything. Israel is having growing pains. Our baby is now a teenager and we have to readjust the systems to accommodate this. But Judaism is not a teenager. Judaism is older and should know better.
There is a lot to figure out here. A lot of thought and strategic planning that must go into our future. I really hope we take the time.
For more articles on the future of Judaism, visit The Future of Judaism from Patheos
Update 7.13.10: I found this video of Anat’s arrest. It really bothers me that they are PUSHING her while she is walking forward and they are trying to rip the Torah out of her hand. Also, I am told, they were forced, by the police, to wear their tallis like a scarf.