When I was 17, I had my first Israel experience. On our first Friday evening in Jerusalem, we danced and sang and got as close to the Kotel as we dared, slightly afraid of the crone-like ladies who had begged us for money, proffering a red string in return, earlier that day. While we spent a few more Shabbatot in Jerusalem that summer, and while I have been in Jerusalem since, I have never gotten closer than that first Shabbat. I have never touched the Kotel. I have never placed a slip of paper in its cracks. I have never prayed with the Women of the Wall.
Butâ€¦when I watched thefootage of the police taking Anat Hoffman into custody, I was angry and frustrated. She was scolded as if she were a child; led away and taken into police custody for holding a Torahâ€¦it’s crazy to me. I recall my first thoughts were â€“ don’t the police have more important things to do, like catch rapists, murderers and arrest people for violent offences? Whom does she hurt by carrying a Torah? I certainly don’t claim to be as informed as Cori. In fact, I like to run high on emotions and as few facts as possibleâ€¦but how can the Kotel be a place that is comfortable for anyone who would like to pray there, when half of the population can’t pray there because of their anatomy?
Clearly, I’m a little slow in responding to Anat’s arrest… The point of this post is to call attention to the positive things that the Women of the Wall are doing in the wake of a bad situation and bad press. WOW has issued a call to action â€“ an opportunity for positive images of women studying, teaching, carrying, reading from and embracing the Torah, to make it to the Knesset. In their Take a Stand campaign, Women of the Wall ask us to take photos of the women in our communities with Torah scrolls, upload them to their website and send them, along with a letter to Bibi (I can call him that, we went to the same high school) and other officials. They ask that this be a time of recognizing women’s participation in prayer & the Torah â€“ a positive recognition with smiling faces of women praying and studying together, instead of the uncomfortable images of Anat’s arrest that are still circulating in the media. Upload your photo, send your letter â€“ Take a Stand.