The title of this blog post perfectly reflects my current feelings. In two weeks and a day I will be on a plane back to the United States (via my connection in Amsterdam). Thinking about how little time left I have in Israel both excites me and saddens me, and my experiences with WOW are a major reason for my slight reluctance to acknowledge that Rosh Hodesh Iyar was my last time praying with WOW for the foreseeable future.
I began my experience with WOW last year by accident. While I had been following WOW in the news for more than a year by then, I was not planning on applying to be an intern. It was while I was looking for the former director of Open House (who now works for IRAC), that I was called into an office and asked if I would be willing to be a liaison between my classmates and WOW. I was asked for my name and responded as I shook hands with the woman. “And you are?” I asked. She replied, “Anat Hoffman.” I froze, likely turned red and said it was very nice to meet her and left the office. I turned to my friend who was with me as we walked down the stairs and said, “I can’t believe I just did that!” He laughed and we continued on with our day. That chance encounter encouraged me to apply to be an intern with WOW.
Being an intern with WOW meant that I was up, often before the sun, in order to be at the Kotel by 7am. Even though Rosh Hodesh is on my calendar, every month it would sneak up on me. Yet, my classmates always knew that if I was late to my Hebrew class (usually), late to another class or not present for a service at the College, that I had been at the Wall and they would ask me about it when I saw them later in the day. I was lucky to have an amazing co-intern, classmate and friend, Eliana, and generally 5-7 other female classmates with me at the Kotel. It was the 25th anniversary in November that was a time to remember though, because many more of my classmates, including some of the men, decided to come and participate in services. It was such an enjoyable service, especially being able to look over to the men’s side and see my classmates standing on chairs instead of the men who were generally yelling things at us. While the yelling has toned down in recent months, Iyar we had the honor of experiencing another group of young women praying and dancing when we arrived, I will never forget the times last summer when we prayed on the Plaza, surrounded by police and their barricades. That experience will always stay with me as I continue to struggle for the rights of women in Israel – at the Kotel and throughout society.
I am incredibly grateful for the experiences and opportunities WOW has given me this year, and I hope to continue my activism from the States. This will not be the last time you hear from me on this issue or another.
By Simone Schicker – HUC Year in Israel Rabbinic Student and WOW Intern