My Jewish Tent is Big Enough for You. Why Do You Feel so Threatened By Me?
I was appalled, as I often am, after reading the latest email newsletter from Women of the Wall. Not only was there yelling, heckling, and spitting involved, as there usually is, while they tried to celebrate Rosh Hodesh but the Ultra-Orthodox have reached a new low by grabbing the WOW siddurim and tearing them up and throwing them on the ground! These are the same people who I am sure would lovingly pick up and kiss their own siddurim if one happened to fall to the ground. They seem to mostly be teenagers egged on by adults to commit these atrocities in the name of their god or their rabbi or who knows what. I just can't get my head around the fact that this is allowed to happen and even encouraged by many.
This type of behavior is so antithetical to Judaism and the Torah whose overriding message is one of love of other Jews, of one's neighbor, of the widow, the stranger, and the orphan. What has happened to kol yisrael aravim zeh bazeh? The people that did this must not care about this deeply rooted Jewish value or they must have some very twisted way of interpreting it. We cannot continue to let this reprehensible behavior go on!
I understand that there are very complex political issues in Israel when it comes to the power of the Rabbanut and especially when we are talking about what happens at the Kotel but continuing to allow the masses of secular and liberal religious Jews to be held captive to an increasingly fanatical and dangerous Ultra-Orthodox minority is ridiculous. It is time for some serious tohahah with consequences that are finally meaningful and helpful for the rest of Israel and the Jews.
WOW is very brave to continue to show up and take this abuse month after month, hag after hag. They are an amazing example to us all of what it means to have grit but we have got to support them and others like them who insist on kol yisrael aravim zeh bazeh and just plain human decency and treating people b'tzelem elohim.
As a professor who teaches, among other things, Jewish history, I can say with authority that Judaism has never been monolithic, completely normative, or otherwise represented by only one group nor will it ever be. So why is this shocking and disgusting behavior allowed to happen in our beloved country? I am ashamed that people who call themselves Jews behave this way. When are we going to stop saying that's just the Ultra-Orthodox, ignore them?!? WOW does not have that luxury as they try to worship and celebrate together as Jewish women at a sacred site that is for ALL Jews if they choose to visit.
I will now descend from my soapbox but, seriously, support WOW in what they do because it is important work. It is about much more than just free and equal access to the Kotel. It is about dignity, b'tzelem elohim, loving one another and our myriad differences. Values that I hope we can all get behind and practice!