26 October 2014

News from the hill

A friend of mine posted an amazing link today on Facebook, about a group of extremely brave Jewish women who smuggled a tiny Torah scroll into the women's section of the Wailing Wall and conducted a Bat Mitzvah there, a coming-of-age ceremony for a young Jewish girl. This was brave on several counts: the Orthodox rabbis who oversee the Wall tried to prevent them from gathering there, and traditionally women have not been seen as equals in Jewish law. They are not allowed to wear tallit, the prayer shawl, or tefillin, the little boxes with Torah scrolls in them that are tied onto the head and hands of Orthodox Jews when they pray (putting God's word on their heads and hands). Jewish women are not allowed to carry, touch, or read from the Torah, and synagogues are segregated.

This group of amazing women is asking, why is this so? Why is one interpretation of halakhah, the Jewish law, stopping them from gathering at the most holy site of their faith? Why are men allowed to carry out a Bar Mitzvah, the ceremony for a boy, at the Wall, and women are not?

These courageous women are standing up and claiming their faith in a new way. They too have been inspired by the Shekinah, Wisdom, Sophia - the working of God in the world. I pray alongside them in their struggle to be seen as equal in the sight of the Holy One.

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