Oct 18, 2010

A Personal Note: Announcing "Rabbis for Women of the Wall"


A Personal Note from Rabbi Creditor
Announcing "Rabbis for Women of the Wall"
10 Cheshvan, 5771
October 18, 2010
Dear Chevreh,

It is with great pride and a bit of trembling that I share with you this information.

Two months ago I was asked to help found and cochair Rabbis for Women of the Wall, an interdenominational coalition of rabbis from across North America who call upon the the government of Israel, Israeli leaders, courts and rabbinic officials to accept and affirm the diversity of Judaism within Israel's borders and around the world.  After conferring with our president Jeff Rosenbloom, and after a serious appraisal of my current commitments, I accepted this task.  (It would be less-than-honest to deny the influence upon my decision of the Haredim who threw chairs at my sister and the Women of the Wall last March.)  I said yes both because I could actually take on this role, and also because I could not say no.

This new group went public today at 3pm EST.  Our press release is pasted below (and online here).  I am humbled by the leaders of North American Jewry who have added their names, including every non-Orthodox rabbinic organization in the United States (see the list here and here).  We  call upon the Mayor and Chief of Police of Jerusalem to provide protection to Women of the Wall as they pray at the Kotel each Rosh Hodesh, rather than harassing them. We call upon the government of Israel and its police forces and military to immediately institute and enforce a zero tolerance policy against attacking women in any way whatsoever, including throwing chairs and feces-filled diapers and other objects at women who pray together at the Kotel on Rosh Hodesh and at other times, as well as the attacking of women anywhere in Israel for carrying traces of their religious observance, such as marks on their arms from wearing tefillin. 

Chevreh, I write to you for a number of reasons. 

One is to share this effort and to ask for your support.   Please forward this email, along with the Women of the Wall website link (
http://womenofthewall.org.il/solidarity/take-a-stand) and the related press release (below and online here) widely.  I also share this with you because my involvement in activism like this impacts our community.  I believe the efforts I've supported as the rabbi of Netivot Shalom are in sync with our purposes as a community.  

But all these pieces of my rabbinic work pale in comparison - both in demand and in importance - to my serving as your rabbi.  I try, just for a moment every Shabbat morning, to look around the sanctuary at the diversity we represent.  We aren't of one generation, nor of one opinion, and yet we gather as a purposeful Jewish community very often.  Our new board (to be installed at the annual meeting November 14th) is charged with supporting our shul as we grow past the 400 member-unit mark.  Our staff and members generate an almost unimaginable number of learning and engagement opportunities for old and young, many entry points for Jewish seekers and seekers of Judaism, an ongoing commitment to social action, a deepening of our Israel-awareness and conversation - I cannot begin to tell you how much my day-to-day work fills my heart with joy.  And, frankly, given the work I do with other communities, I do not for a moment take for granted who we are and who we aspire to be. 

We are a rare kind of Jewish home, and I am committed first, foremost, and emphatically to our success.  I use technology to accomplish much of my work beyond the shul because I never want to miss a moment at Netivot Shalom.

I'd like to, once again, invite you to have coffee with me, to take a tiyyul (a walk) with me, to let me know when you need me.  Please be in touch with Rachel at office@netivotshalom.org to schedule a time for us to connect.

You, my community, are more important than anything else to me.  I'm humbled to be your rabbi, and I thank you for supporting me as I try to help the world beyond our shul in these ways.  May the needs decrease and the energy increase for us all.

With much warmth, gratitude, and hope,
Rabbi Creditor

_______________________________

FOR RELEASE ON OCTOBER 18, 2010

 

RABBIS TAKE A STAND

TO SUPPORT WOMEN'S RELIGIOUS RIGHTS IN ISRAEL

 

Contact:

Rabbi Pamela Frydman 415-261-3404, rebpam@gmail.com

Rabbi Menachem Creditor, 510-549-9447, rabbicreditor@gmail.com

 

The attached statement signed by twenty-eight prominent rabbis has been sent to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Speaker of the Israeli Knesset Rubi Rivlin, opposition leader and Head of the Israeli Kadima Party Tzipi Livni, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, and Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz Shlita.

 

With the issuing of this statement, we, Orthodox, Conservative (Masorti), Reform (Progressive), Reconstructionist and Renewal Rabbis-whose brief bios are attached-have launched a new social justice movement called Rabbis for Women of the Wall, a trans-denominational campaign to support the rights of women to lead worship, wear a prayer shawl, carry a Torah scroll and read from a Torah scroll at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a holy site that carries great symbolic significance for Jews everywhere.

 

All rabbis everywhere are invited to become Rabbis for Women of the Wall by signing the statement for delivery to Israeli officials. Jewish congregations, federations, JCRC's, JCC's and other institutions are invited to become Organizations for Women of the Wall by endorsing the same statement to Israeli officials. Individuals-including both women and men-are also invited to sign a differently worded statement to the same Israeli officials. To sign on, go to TAKE A STAND on the Women of the Wall website http://womenofthewall.org.il/.

 

"The launch of Rabbis for Women of the Wall is a defining moment that far surpasses Jewish denominational distinctions," says Rabbis for WOW Co-Chair Rabbi Menachem Creditor. "The status of the Jewish People in Israel, and therefore the world, is at stake, and we, the rabbinic community of North America, have an important voice."

 

"Yes, there are unique ideological commitments that lead to spirited encounter when we come together," says Co-Chair Rabbi Pamela Frydman. "But the blessing is in coming together. With the increasing marginalization of non-Charedi (non-ultra-Orthodox) Judaism in Israel, every facet of our people, including Charedim, is in danger. When we segregate our schools, fund intolerance, and arrest women for holding a Torah or reading from it, we are in need of healing."

 

"We are the rabbis of North American Jewry, and we are here to lead and support every part of the Jewish People." Continues Rabbi Creditor. "When a part is attacked, we all feel the pain. This is a painful moment, and it is our time to speak."

 


Chag Sukkot Sameach, dear friends.