Oct 22, 2010

Articles on JTA.org, Forward.com, and JWeekly.com on Rabbis for Women of the Wall

Dear Chevreh,

I share with you below three articles reporting on the launch of Rabbis for Women of the Wall (http://womenofthewall.org.il/solidarity/take-a-stand).  

Over 400 colleagues across North America have signed onto the campaign, and there are already other "Organizations for Rabbis of the Wall" (http://womenofthewall.org.il/solidarity/take-a-stand/organizations-take-a-stand) in place.  I share these stories with you, but I know that these efforts aren't enough.  There are some who feel the Israeli Supreme Court's decision vis a vis Robinson's Arch (The Masorti Kotel) is where energy should be placed.  I agree.  There are some who feel that Women of the Wall's campaign to be included Jewish sacred space and be recognized by Israel as an authentic Judaism is where energy should be placed.  I agree.  And to those who say they contradict each other, I disagree.  We (Masorti/Conservative Jews) are not the only authentic Judaism either.  I'm proud of our standing side by side with sisters and brothers of different denominations in this effort, and pray that if/when the need arises to defend and celebrate Masorti/Conservative Judaism's place in our Jewish world, we will have nurtured a healthy and passionate family-minded coalition.  This is visible even in the collaborative chairperson role I share with our Aleph colleague and my dear friend Rabbi Pam Frydman, who has done an enormous amount of work to make this idea real.

Shabbat Shalom - and may this work be part of a stronger coming-together for our global Jewish family,
Menachem

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Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Rabbis for Women of the Wall  ||  menachemcreditor.org 
To join Rabbi Creditor's email listsend a blank email to thetisch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

JTA.org: "Rabbis launch campaign for Women of the Wall"

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) -- A group of North American rabbis has launched an online campaign to support women who want to pray at the Western Wall with Torahs and prayer shawls.

The 28 rabbis, calling themselves Rabbis for Women of the Wall, sent a letter Monday morning to seven Israeli leaders urging protection for those women.

The letter, signed by the presidents of the Reform, Conservative, Renewal and Reconstructionist rabbinical associations, was sent to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, opposition leader and Kadima Party head Tzipi Livini, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites.

It calls upon the officials, as well as Jerusalem's mayor and police chief, to "provide protection to Women of the Wall as they pray at the Kotel … rather than harassing them."

The letter also calls on the Israeli officials to "find appropriate and safe venues at the Kotel for Jews who are not comfortable with women leading worship or holding the Torah or reading from it to enjoy their practice of Judaism unhindered, and physically separated from other designated portions of the Kotel where women are allowed to lead worship, wear a tallit, wear tefillin, hold the Torah and read from the Torah."

For more than 20 years, members of Women of the Wall have fought, and lost, legal battles in Israeli courts seeking the right to pray with Torahs and prayer shawls at the Western Wall. They have faced physical and verbal attacks from haredi Orthodox men and women at the site.

The group has been permitted to pray at an alternate site, Robinson's Arch, at the southern end of the wall.


Forward.com: "For Women of the Wall, a New Coalition of Allies"

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen


The embattled Women of the Wall prayer group has a new coalition of allies, in the form of a group called Rabbis for Women of the Wall.

Women of the Wall is a group of Israeli and other Jewish women (many originally from North America) who have long fought for the right to pray as a group at the beginning of each Jewish month at Judaism's holiest site, the Kotel, or Western Wall of the Jerusalem area where the ancient Temple once stood.

WoW has faced invective and at times physical violence from some of the Haredi men and women who worship at the Kotel. Since last November, members and the group's leader have also been arrested while carrying a Sefer Torah.

The new group, co-chaired by Rabbi Menachem Creditor, — a Conservative rabbi who leads Congregation Netivot Shalom, — has formed in response to those incidents and the growing perception in Israel that the only Judaism is the ultra-Orthodox version, he told The Sisterhood.

The group's statement says:

We, the undersigned Modern Orthodox, Masorti/Conservative, Progressive/Reform, Reconstructionist and Renewal rabbis, declare ourselves to be Rabbis for Women of the Wall. Organizations listed below have endorsed this statement and declare themselves to be Organizations for Women of the Wall.

We stand in support and solidarity with Women of the Wall, an international confluence of Jewish women from around the world who strive to achieve the right, as women, to wear tallitot (prayer shawls), and to pray and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at HaKotel HaMaaravi (the Western Wall) in Jerusalem. We affirm our solidarity with Women of the Wall as part of our deep commitment to, and love for, the State of Israel and its inhabitants."

It was sent to Israeli government leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the speaker of the Knesset, the leader of the opposition, the head of the Jewish Agency, both the mayor and chief of police of Jerusalem, and the Orthodox rabbi who is officially in charge of conduct at the Kotel.

"There's a very muscular claiming of authenticity by the Haredi version of Judaism, which is to everyone's detriment including, ultimately, the Haredim's," Creditor said. "We're doing this now because, frankly, the relationship between Israel and global Jewry is part of what is being lost" as part of the Haredi effort.

Rabbis for Women of the Wall's statement was sent to the officials on Wednesday. At the time of this post, the organization has yet to receive any responses.



Jweekly.com: "Local rabbis help launch group supporting Women of the Wall"
Thursday, October 21, 2010 | by amanda pazornik 

An online campaign to support women who want to pray aloud at the Western Wall has its epicenter in the Bay Area. 

Rabbis Menachem Creditor of Congrega-tion Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, and Pamela Frydman Baugh, who served at Or Shalom Jewish Community in San Francisco, are the international co-chairs of Rabbis for Women of the Wall, a group that launched this week with the sending of a letter.  

BAwow Frydman Baugh, Pamela
Rabbi Pamela Frydman Baugh
"The launch of Rabbis for Women of the Wall is a defining moment that far surpasses Jewish denominational distinctions," Creditor said. "The status of the Jewish people in Israel, and therefore the world, is at stake. We, the rabbinic community of North America, have an important voice."  

Twenty-eight signatories sent a letter Oct. 18 to seven Israeli political and religious leaders urging protection for the Women of the Wall.

Since 1988, Women of the Wall members have risked — and often endured — verbal and physical abuse from powerful ultra-Orthodox groups for publicly praying using Jewish ritual objects. The group has been permitted to pray at an alternative site, Robinson's Arch, at the southern end of the wall.  

The letter, signed by the presidents of the Reform, Conservative, Renewal and Reconstructionist rabbinical associations, was sent to officials in Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Rubi Rivlin and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites.

It calls upon the leaders, as well as Jerusalem's mayor and police chief, to "provide protection to Women of the Wall as they pray at the Kotel … rather than harassing them" and "immediately institute and enforce a zero tolerance policy against attacking women in any way."  

The letter also implores officials to "find appropriate and safe venues at the Kotel for Jews who are not comfortable with women leading worship or holding the Torah or reading from it to enjoy their practice of Judaism unhindered, and physically separated from other designated portions of the Kotel where women are allowed to lead worship." 

For more than 20 years, members of Women of the Wall have fought, and lost, legal battles in Israeli courts seeking the right to pray with Torahs and prayer shawls at the Western Wall. The ultra-Orthodox groups that exert authority at the site condemn those acts.   

"With the increasing marginalization of [non-ultra-Orthodox] Judaism in Israel, every facet of our people, including [ultra-Orthodox] is in danger," Frydman Baugh said. "When we segregate our schools, fund intolerance and arrest women for holding a Torah or reading from it, we are in need of healing."

The launch of Rabbis for Women of the Wall comes on the heels of another campaign to inundate Israeli political and religious leaders with 10,000 photos of women teaching, studying, reading from and embracing Torah scrolls. 

Several Bay Area synagogues joined the cause by hosting photo sessions and showing the Women of the Wall documentary, "Praying in Her Own Voice."  

The statement closes with an invitation to rabbis, Jewish organizations and individuals to join in "adding their voices to our voices" by signing the letter.

"We are the rabbis of North American Jewry, and we are here to lead and support every part of the Jewish people," Creditor said. "When part is attacked, we all feel the pain."

To view the letter, visit http://www.womenofthewall.org.il.

 
 


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