The list is in and, according to the Jerusalem Post, our own Anat Hoffman is the 5th most influential Jew in the world. Hoffman, the Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), trails only MK Yair Lapid, Jack Lew, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. She comes in above Jon Stewart (#7), Rep. Debbi Wasserman Schultz (#10) and Justice Elana Kagan (#12), just to name a few. Read more…
Last Friday was a historic day at the Western Wall. It was the first test of Judge Sobel’s ruling allowing women to pray at the Western Wall in a manner they see fit without police harassment. Despite strong opposition the ruling held and hundreds of women prayed with their tallitot, tefillin, and in a strong full voice. The women who came out that day should be commended for their courage.
This article was originally published on RJ.org.
Still not clear on the details of the ongoing dispute regarding women’s prayer at the Western Wall in Israel? Been following along so closely that you want to know even more about it? Last week, Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson, director of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, was interviewed by Timothy Michael Law, founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief of The Marginalia Review of Books. The Women’s Rabbinic Network is the international support and advocacy organization for women in the Reform rabbinate.
Last week, the Jerusalem District Court determined that the recent detention of Women of the Wall members for their activities at the Western Wall was unjustified. The decision was met with applause from Reform Leaders. Read more…
Sport is one of the great equalizers. I often speak about my time in competitive swimming, and all that it gave me. There are really no limits to the values one can learn from team sports. We learn discipline and hard work, as well as how to work with others. We learn how to accept defeat and how to be gracious winners. Unfortunately, for members of the Israeli Youth Basketball Association, they are also learning how to exclude female players. It seems that for some the value is simply: No Girls Allowed.
We each go through our own grieving process when we lose a loved one, but reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish is the most common ritual across our community. We stand together in remembrance of those who have recently passed or whose anniversary we are observing, gathering strength from those with us. This prayer does not once mention “death”; instead together we say, “May God’s great name be blessed for ever, and to all eternity.”
We write a lot about Women of the Wall on RACblog - we write about the injustice of a religious monopoly on a prayer space, we write about the inequities between men and women present at our holy site, we write about the ways in which the system needs to be radically altered. But we don’t always have the opportunity to write about URJ congregants – in this case, participants of WRJ’s Centennial Trip to Israel - participating in the experience.
On their trip, WRJ members attended the Rosh Chodesh Nisan Women of the Wall service. It was a very moving experience for them:
“‘WRJ joined Knesset members and Women of the Wall in prayer at the Western Wall to celebrate the beginning of a new month and to stand together for religious pluralism in Israel,’ said WRJ President Lynn Magid Lazar. ‘WRJ is committed to advancing the rights of women around the world, including the right of women to pray at the Western Wall according to their custom.’
WRJ Executive Director Rabbi Marla J. Feldman said, ‘It is ironic that in Israel, women face the threat of being detained for wearing a tallit and praying out loud at the Western Wall while next Shabbat, we will pray freely with the Jewish community of Berlin with no restrictions or threats. The Israeli government must guarantee the rights and safety of all Jews who visit the Western Wall to pray and must not allow an extremist religious group to control this sacred space.’ “
Read more about WRJ leaders praying with Knesset members to advocate for religious pluralism in Israel here.