As Women of the Wall, we are an extremely diverse group, women of all ages and from all walks of life. A few weeks ago, I introduced you to Rachel Ann Anolick, self-identified “frum” and “Orthodox, Jewish, feminist” in this inspirational, moving post.
Eliza Moss-Horwitz, age 16, is a participant in Moving Traditions‘ ‘Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing!’ in Northampton, MA. She will be joining Women of the Wall at the Kotel on Rosh Hodesh Sh’vat this week, January 2, 2013 at 7AM (Join us or watch live online).
Eliza is a bright young woman with a clear vision for equality at the Kotel:
I still remember my kindergarten days so vividly. Every morning at the Solomon Schechter Day School we read books and stories about a variety of subjects, including Judaism. We read stories in which men and women prayed together, and families prayed together. It all seemed so simple and clear-cut and yet, unbeknownst to me, Jewish women just like myself were struggling to be able to just wear a tallit during prayer. In elementary school we all gathered once a week for Tefillah (prayer) and we all learned about the prayer services together, boys and girls.
As a child and even through my early years of young adulthood, the thought that gender discrimination would extend so far as to diminish the privileges of women in praying didn’t even occur to me. We are all people under one religion and we deserve to be treated equally. Prohibiting women from reading Torah at the Western Wall goes against my personal belief that we are all equal. How can we tell one Jew she is less important than another Jew simply because of her gender? I first found out about this issue about a year ago, when I learned about this contest through Moving Traditions. As any teenager in modern society would, I googled “Women of the Wall issue” and was shocked with the results that came up. It had never occurred to me that a girl just like me might not be able to have her Bat Mitzvah at the Western Wall. If I can pray at my temple at home, why can’t any girl pray anywhere? Whose right is it to tell us women where we can and cannot pray? It is vitally important that all American teenagers – girls.
To quote a believer in equality for all, Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Just because the Jewish girls and boys in America aren’t being directly affected by this injustice does not mean that it does not impact their role in their religion. If they can’t feel free to pray at the holiest place in Judaism, can they really feel free when they pray anywhere? Some say that if women were given equality at the Western Wall, the prayers of men would be diminished. I believe that if anything, giving women equality will only increase the specialness of the prayers of men. Including women in prayer at the Western Wall furthers the message that we are all one under the same religion. It brings us together and strengthens the already hugely impactful community-oriented aspect of Judaism.
Women are not lesser than men and they won’t stand for being deprived of their human rights. I am so honored to have won this opportunity to represent Moving Traditions on Rosh Hodesh at the Western Wall because I look up to all advocates of equality for women and I believe that no one should be subjugated simply because of their gender.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Eliza! Thnk you for standing up for women’s rights at the Kotel. We look forward to having you and the other Moving Traditions’ representatives join us for Rosh Hodesh Sh’vat prayers.