Talking to Lesley Sachs about Women Of the Wall is like listening to a history professor give a well-thought out lecture to her university students. Lesley speaks chronologically and authoritatively about the foundation and sustainability of “Nashot Hakotel (Women Of the Wall in Hebrew)” in Israel.
As the director and a longtime supporter of WOW, Lesley now assists the organization in its public relations, outreach and development. Lesley‘s passion and life-long work has always focused on women’s rights and religious pluralism. She worked for 10 years in the Israel Women’s Network, served as Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and Vice President of the World Union For Progressive Judaism.
“The most exciting thing that we have done recently has been the creation of a special siddur, Prayers for Rosh Hodesh. For decades, women would come to pray with us and bring a variety of their own prayer books. This meant that not everyone could follow and be on the same page. This customized siddur places us all on the same page, figuratively and literally. It has made a tremendous difference in the quality of our prayers. We encourage everyone to buy one on site.” The purchase will of course go towards supporting Women Of the Wall’s mission and also enable women across the world to pray together and in solidarity with WOW and even be on the same page.
Lesley admitted that the main supporters are outside of Israel. “We receive support from the reform and conservative movement, but our success will be defined by the new generation of Israeli women.”
To that end WOW has renewed its focus on mobilizing Israeli women from all over the country. “We are actively engaged in attracting the Israeli population of women through social media and online networking. We want to link their thinking about segregation of women at the Kotel to segregation in other areas of Israeli society. Everything we do affects the future of women’s religious freedom throughout Israel. We are only one part of the public sphere in terms of discrimination of women. Segregation of women is not only an issue at the Kotel; it is seeping into other parts of public life where women’s voices should be heard.”
“In addition, many Israelis have given up on the Kotel as a public domain. The years of indoctrination have made Israelis accept the Kotel as an Orthodox synagogue instead of what is really is, a national holy site which belongs to the Jewish people.”
Lesley continues to create new points of contact with Israeli and English-speaking communities worldwide through the new WOW documentary films, currently in production, which will be used as educational and promotional marketing tools.
Her vision is to engage men and women to be part of a speaker’s bureau whose main mission will be to educate, inform and encourage financial and political engagement. The films will be in English and Hebrew and will reach out to potential supporters of all ages and from all different religious affiliations.
“We want to start a conversation which is thoughtful and relevant to men and women who want to preserve and extend religious freedoms to all.”
To check out the new Women Of the Wall Hebrew website click here. Make sure to let your Hebrew speaking friends know about it too!