Well, here we are, on the other side of yet another Rosh Chodesh debacle at the Kotel. While the vast majority of the women simply prayed, there were a few—twenty-five to thirty-five, according to Ronit Peskin—who were jeering, screaming, blowing whistles, picketing, and generally acting nasty. The founders of W4W seem upset by the fact that some WoW members and supporters are writing articles that are focusing on the anger and frustration they felt being subjected to the abuse of these 25-35 women, as well as having an egg thrown at them by a Chareidi man, and not being able to access the Kotel due to the large crowd of Chareidi women and girls who were bused in to protest WoW’s prayers.
I’m not really sure what W4W was expecting. Did they think they were going to see write-ups of the event that looked like this:
Praying at the entrance to the Kotel plaza due to the vast crowds brought in specifically to block out WoW members was the pinnacle experience of my spiritual journey. I felt so much love from the 7000 women who took time out of their busy schedules, and woke up at 5:30 in the morning to protest the way I and my friends choose to connect with our Creator. The peaceful jeers and melodic shrieks of the whistles added a sense of unity, almost as if we were communing with the whole Jewish nation and God Himself.”
It’s a real shame that W4W chose quantity over quality in their quest to resolve the differences between traditional and progressive Judaism. At it’s inception, W4W seemed to want to bring in a small number of women who would pray alongside WoW in a traditional manner, conveying a message that they love them as fellow Jewish sisters. But, as we all know, peace and love don’t make headlines. Their desire for media attention overran their desire to foster unity between the two factions. And by taking the crowds and controversy route over the gentle and intimate route, they have doomed themselves to failure. By aligning themselves with a faction of the population, however small it may be, that is willing to spit, scream and throw things in the name of Heaven, they have tarred themselves with the very same brush the media uses for those 25-35 zealots.
And that is why, even though there were 7000 women there praying quietly, those few people who chose to exhibit disrespectful or abusive behavior are the ones that formed WoW’s impressions of the event. My suggestion to W4W is to choose your friends wisely. If you want dialogue, don’t call for it from an island amid shark-infested waters, and then wonder why no one is willing to swim out to you.
Additionally, you would do well to remember the words of Rabbi Akiva: “Love your fellow Jew as you would love yourself.” If you request that WoW and their supporters understand that the vast majority of traditionalists are peaceful and loving, and only a small group are violent and hateful, I recommend you extend the same courtesy to WoW, and understand that the “agenda” you are fighting against, is held only by a small number of WoW and their supporters, if it exists at all.
Chodesh tov to all. May we see an end to infighting and senseless hatred speedily in our days.