Today was my first experience with Women of the Wall. I woke up at at 6:15 this morning and I got a cab to the Wall. As I walked to the women’s section, I was greeted by beautiful and unapologetically truly happy female voices singing Shaharit. I was astounded and I was inspired. I quickly put on my Talit and joined the crowd. I started singing loud and proud. I have never felt so connected to my Judaism, my sense of self. For a moment I was one with this newfound community as I also felt the most incredible connection to G-d. My moment was interrupted by a woman who began to bang her desk as we were singing Ahavah Rabah in order to disrupt the service. I wanted to talk to her, speak to her, and tell her about my moment….maybe she would have one too? But as I began to approach she hissed at me and told me to “Keep back” and “Stay away from her”. I was hurt but not heartbroken. Because once again I was interrupted in my moment when two Haredi boys threw a full glass of water and pieces of trash at us from across the mehitzah. Instead of losing my spirit, my Ruach, I sang my heart to G-d and prayed for her and for those two boys. I prayed for acceptance, love, and community. I looked around and realized I had it all right where I was.
Today was the second day of Rosh Hodesh. Completely different experience different than yesterday…today they were expecting us. I came into a crowd of women singing joyously– but under horrible conditions. Haradi women were screaming at the service leaders, trying to infiltrate the prayer circle’s center. Men from the raised platform and from over the mehitzah were trying to silence us by hissing, screaming, whistling, and talking over our praying.They held up signs denouncing the validity of reform Judaism and were yelling terrible insults at us. The only thing to do was to push through the hateful words and focus on the service. Today we snuck the Torah scroll into the Kotel. It was an incredible success and we were all so thankful and elated that we were able have a Torah scroll a second day. However, bringing the Sefer Torah was especially wonderful today because I got to witness a Women of the Wall Bat Mitzvah. It was beautiful but the Bat Mitzvah girl was frightened by all the threatening sounds. It wasn’t until the Torah got there that she seemed to feel comfortable. After she chanted she was glowing and she joined in the Simcha and support of her fellow women. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Today something shifted, boundaries were tested, some tears were shed, and women blossomed into pillars of strength, courage, and bravery. On the way out of the women’s section, we were met with a great deal of hatred from Haredi boys. They threw trash at us, yelled and whistled in our ears, some even pushed one of our fellow male supporters. But we will not let that discourage us. We are here for equality, equity, and inclusion.