Women of the Wall bus campaign.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Hey, I’m Devorah and my dad is a rabbi. Hey, I’m Ashira and my mom is a rabbi. We are BFFs. One of the things we do together is go every month to pray with Women of the Wall (WoW) at the Kotel in Jerusalem. As Jews around the world recently celebrated Simhat Torah – the holiday marking the beginning of the weekly Torah reading cycle – half of the Jews are still banned from reading Torah at Judaism’s holiest place.
Yes, us girls.
WoW is a group of women and girls who go to the Western Wall every month, for Rosh Hodesh – the celebration of the new month – and pray there. (The next one is Friday morning, October 24 at 7 a.m.) But we do much more than that. While we pray, we make change. It used to be until recently that women were arrested for wearing prayer shawls at the Wall. (Coo-coo, right?) Now because of Women of the Wall’s campaign, we wear prayer shawls legally and safely. Believe it or not, but Ashira’s mom and sister and other women, too, were arrested for wearing prayer shawls at the Wall! We like praying there together because it is fun and we are making a change. There were some days, though, that were scary. Like one day it was very crowded with people who came against women having equal rights at the Kotel. Ashira was spat on. Also, Devorah had an aliya for the celebration of my bat mitzvah and people threw rocks at us.
The aliya for Devorah’s bat mitzvah was not the regular blessing because we could only read from a book of the Five Books of Moses and not a holy scroll, from which boys read for their bar mitzvah.
Only men are given Torah scrolls by the Western Wall authorities and they can only be read on the men’s side of the barrier between men and women. We think that’s cray-cray because men and women should have the same rights everywhere.
And one is not better than the other. We are all equal. Our vision for religious freedom would mean equal rights and not saying to each other how to be Jewish.
Ashira is 11 years old now and planning for her bat mitzvah. And she’ll be reading from a Torah scroll. Devorah is 13 and for her bat mitzvah she read from a Torah scroll, but not at the Kotel. By the time Ashira has her bat mitzvah, we’re asking for two things to change. One, that Ashira will have the right to read from a Torah scroll at the Western Wall, so all girls who want to will finally be able to. Second, what’s the deal with the women’s side of the Kotel plaza being so much smaller than the men’s side?! Let’s go half-half. It’s only fair.The authors, along with two other girls, began appearing on Jerusalem bus ads this week to promote bat mitzvahs at the Western Wall with a Torah scroll. #busmitzvah