When I woke up this morning at 4:45 there was a sense of darkness and serenity, a black space of quietness that’s rare in the bustling Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. I walked down to the Kotel (Western Wall) with my roommates and prayed. I prayed for my family and friends, teachers and Rabbis. I prayed for the State of Israel and for peace among the nations. I prayed with my fellow Jewish people who were willing to rise before the first rays of light peaked through the clouds.
Yeshiva and Seminary Gap Year students gathered early this morning, in a Minyan as a collective group. As we reached the Prayer of Hallel, known for its beautiful words of praise, the students on their respective sides of the Mechizah (gender divide) started to pour their souls out to G-d through song and dance.
Subsequently, the seminary girls started to dance in a traditional circle. Nothing promiscuous, nothing sensual, but pure songs and dances for the glory of Rosh Chodesh, the coming of the new month, and of course, for G-d.
Then, a sudden interruption, a turn of events, and the entire atmosphere changed. Mid – dancing, a woman comes up to us and calls us “Satan,” repeatedly. “Hillul Hashem… Hillul Hashem, Asur, Asur…” (Disgracing G-d…Disgracing G-d…forbidden forbidden!” she barked at us.
Additionally, words shrieked at us by countless women. Words that flew right by my ears, pierced my heart and went directly to my broken soul.
Please show me the Halacha (Jewish Law) where it says not to be happy. Please show me the Halacha where it says not to join together as one nation and praise G-d. Please show me the Halacha that says AS A COLLECTIVE GROUP, women’s voices are not to be heard.
A woman held a sign that said, “We are demonstrating for the mockery that is going on in this place.” Mockery? We are Modern Orthodox young women, who simply wanted to pray to God and express his gratitude, connecting to His Presence through song and dance, on the women’s side, respectfully, modestly and joyously.
I never understood so clearly until today how one’s purest intentions could become so misinterpreted, trampled on and turned into nothingness. I value my opinions, and stand by my beliefs, and I know these women feel the same way about theirs. Nevertheless, please be respectful. Please be aware that G-d only knows how to judge one’s intentions and actions, but we saw your intentions as insensitive and unjust, not fitting in with your personal definition. Please respect and treat your fellow Jew as you would like to be treated.
We are a stubborn nation. A persevering nation. A nation that has beat all odds. And yet. Am Echad, Lev Echad? I don’t think so. If within the Orthodox sects we cannot agree, how can all Jews get along?