Reform Missions Celebrate Women of the Wall’s 25th Anniversary in Jerusalem
On November 3, three North American missions from the Reform Movement will commence their journey in the Holy Land to honor the 25th Anniversary of the Women of the Wall, the group aimed at achieving social and legal recognition of women’s rights to wear prayer shawls, pray communally, and read from the Torah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The three missions include a lay and clergy mission with 80 participants (69 congregants and 11 clergy); a rabbinic mission from the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Women’s Rabbinic Network with 17 rabbis; and a NFTY mission with five teens. (Read bios of all the mission participants.)
This group of 69 lay leaders, 28 clergy, and five young people, will celebrate Rosh Chodesh Kislev together at the Kotel, engage in study with scholars at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, participate in a “Freedom Ride” to support desegregation on Israel’s public buses led by the Israel Religious Action Center and meet with Natan Sharansky, influential members of Knesset, and senior government officials to discuss pressing issues of religious pluralism in Israel.
Delegates will also enjoy a gala celebration at Mercaz Shimshon/Beit Shmuel, headquarters of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, featuring remarks by Women of the Wall Chairwoman Anat Hoffman and former Member of Knesset Naomi Chazan. Renowned musician Julie Silver, cantors participating on the mission, and HUC cantorial students will provide entertainment.
Rabbi Karyn Kedar, Senior Rabbi of Congregation B’nei Jehoshua Beth Elohim in Deerfield, IL, said of the mission,
Ours is a mission to fight for expanding recognition of religious pluralism in Israel. But let there be no mistake. Even as we stand in passionate opposition to discriminatory treatment of women at the Kotel, we must not take for granted that we do so in a democratic country where freedoms are guaranteed. We take our case to the Knesset, the center of political power. We take our case to the press, which is free and open. We travel without fear of persecution and we step onto the stage of history where the democracy and freedom of Israel are the cornerstones of the modern state.
In addition to this mission will be a North American delegation from the Association of Reform Zionists of America, who will be in Israel representing the Reform Movement at the Zionist National Council, HUC-JIR Israeli Rabbinical Ordination, and the Jewish Agency Board of Governor’s meetings. ARZA President Rabbi Joshua Weinberg said,
Joining our Israeli brothers and sisters at the Kotel to express our support for a pluralistic Israeli society is at the core of what we do and what we stand for,” said . “We look forward to bringing the message back to our members and our Movement in America.
For more information on the Women of the Wall, visit www.womenofthewall.org.il