Today, a delegation of five NFTYites will travel to Israel to join with other groups in honoring 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.
Accompanied by NFTY’s Associate Director Beth Rodin, our delegation will celebrate Rosh Chodesh Kislev with Women of the Wall at the Kotel on Monday morning. Throughout the week, they will engage in study with scholars at HUC-JIR, spend time with members of Noar Telem (Israel’s Progressive Jewish Youth Movement), talk with Natan Sharansky, and spend a day with the students on NFTY-EIE exploring how the issues at the Kotel are influenced and relate back to many forms of Zionism.
Meet the NFTY delegation:
NFTY Programming Vice President
After spending a semester on NFTY-EIE two years ago, I left Israel with a greater appreciation for the true history that exists in this space and the importance of knowing it. One of my large goals for my time as a North American board member is to find ways to strengthen and deepen NFTY’s Israel engagement at both a community and individual level. I’m very excited to begin this process by exploring Women of the Wall’s mission and journey during our week long experience and hope that it is just the start of NFTY’s re-dedication to Israel engagement in our regions, TYGs, camps, and communities.
NFTY Ohio Valley Social Action Vice President
I’ve always been a firm believer in equality for all, and the treatment of women at the Kotel is no exception. I visited the Kotel on Tisha Ba’av, the mourning of the destruction of the Temple, and I was truly astounded by the inequality of the men’s and the women’s sides. All of the women were crowded and densely packed, while the men had more than enough room and were able to go up to the wall without waiting. How is it that the holiest site in Judaism is so unequal? Not only is it a chance to visit Israel again, but more importantly it is an opportunity to create real change at the holiest site, within Judaism and maybe even set a precedent for future generations. I look forward to sharing my experience and knowledge with my region.
NFTY Texas-Oklahoma Member and DAFTY President
As someone who has never been to Israel before, I am particularly excited that my first trip will be in honor of WOW, and that I have been given this opportunity to contribute to the conversation about advancing religious pluralism within the NFTY (and URJ) community. Israel is a place that I have been hearing about my entire life, but it is often difficult to feel connected to a place thousands of miles away. I hope that I can inspire others back home to explore their relationship with Israel through this trip, and that this journey will empower fellow NFTYites to continue the dialogue we will be exploring during during our time there in their respective communities.
NFTY Northwest Member and TDSY Programming Vice President
When I traveled to Israel with NFTY for a month this past summer, we talked about Women of the Wall for a short time, but I wished we could have spent more time on that topic, so as soon as I was asked to be a part of this team I jumped at the opportunity. I cannot wait to be able to formulate and share my own opinions about this controversial idea in Israel, and then take what I learned and bring it back to America so I can help educate others on this topic. The first time I went to Israel, I immediately fell in love with the land and the people, so I am thrilled to have the chance to go back with a new purpose.
NFTY Chicago Area Region Member and BJBESYG President
After transferring to a Jewish high school last year, I started to become more aware of how important egalitarianism is. I believe that it is harder for women, including myself, to make a connection to the Kotel because of the lack of equality between men and women. I want to make a difference in how women and pluralistic prayer are perceived not only at the Kotel, but also around the world including my own community at school, camp, and youth group. By being a part of Women of the Wall and this delegation, we are working towards a better future for the women of Judaism and I am very honored to have the opportunity to do so.
Share your prayer
This weekend, the NFTY delegation will be traveling to the Kotel to pray with the Women of the Wall. We would love to bring the prayers of NFTYites with us to place in the wall during this tremendous occasion. If you would like to submit a prayer, please enter it below: