There are 2 Hebrew songs that I heard while on a life-changing jeeping trek in Costa Rica last year that I’ve incorporated into my prayers. Listening to them brings me to a time and space (a tropical rainforest, among others) where I felt very close to my Creator and Creation; to a profound and deeply emotional and spiritual place, and for me that’s what I need from my daily communion with the Spirit in the Sky.
So that’s why I want to give the Women of the Wall their own serious section of the Kotel.
I don’t wear a tallit or tefillin and have never had the slightest urge to do so. My feminism involves trying to impact Judaism in a meaningful way with different but equal gender roles, not to emulate men. No offence, just my personal take. But to each his or her own and whatever gets people closer to God- which is supposed to be the role of prayer although I think a lot of that gets missed in the mumble- should rock as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.
Which is of course the hard place. There are many women who have come to the Kotel devoutly and devotedly for many years who are appalled by the offensive nature of the Women of the Wall. (Full disclosure; I was told years ago by one of their leaders that it was all about the provocation. Really? We don’t have enough issues to deal with?) Anyhow, I’m willing to let that pass and assume that some if not most of the women aren’t there to make noise, but to seek quiet and solace in a way that fills their needs; by reading from the Torah, wearing aforementioned straps and striped shawls, all while surrounded by other women. How to square this circle? Must it be court ordered?
The compromise area near Robinson’s Arch in the Southern Excavations doesn’t have the holy history of the Kotel, the tears, the focus, the dreams. It also infringes on an archaeological site that I’m very familiar with in my capacity as a tour guide, a unique, fragile testimony to the area’s devastation by the Romans during the destruction of the Second Temple 1947 years ago.
So what to do? Well, after much thought I’ve come up with a win-win- win solution.
The archaeologists, tourists and historians get the Arch and Excavations.
The Women of the Wall get a more than symbolic area of the Kotel.
And the original, devoted women of the Kotel, who’ve been there without fanfare in rain, shine and hail storms of rocks, get to leave the default mode/defined by our conquerers to humiliate us supporting Western Wall of the Temple Compound for the real deal.
Har HaBayit. The Temple Mount. There are enough rabbinic dispensations to allow for prayer without trespassing on the actual Temple area. It was one thing to settle for the Kotel when it’s all we had access to, and put up with its debasing moniker the Wailing Wall. Cry, Jews, for what you have lost. But for the last nearly 50 years the Temple Mount has been in our hands and we are hamstringing ourselves. (No irreverent pun intended.) Leaving the Kotel in the warm embrace of the Women of the Wall, who now have the opportunity to prove that they’re there to stay, will allow the rest of us peace of mind to get the physical ‘aliya’ up to the top that’s the next necessary step to returning the honor to the Jews and erasing the shame and loss of nearly two millennia.
The Muslims and their supporters from within our tribe and without won’t be happy. But Resolution 2334 even takes the Kotel from us. So it’s time to make and take our stand, since we get the same wrath upon our heads anyway. Our enemies won’t become our friends but they will respect us for making a move instead of reacting and being defensive. In the Middle East from which we hailed (and to which some of us have returned, rejoining many of our people who never left), respect is the most important commodity you can own.
So let’s call in the forced upon us ‘loan’ of our holiest site. With utmost thanks to all, both human and limestone, for your supporting roles. But now let the next act begin.
It’s Time. To Pray. ON the Temple Mount.
See, wasn’t that easy?