Standing at Sinai

I will not be locked out

I am 19 years old. 

I am Jewish.

I am an American.

I love Israel and am concluding an academic gap year here.

I have been reading Torah at my synagogue and Jewish day school since the fourth grade.

I have been wearing Talit and Tfilin since becoming Bat Mitzvah.

I went to the Kotel to celebrate Rosh Hodesh with Women of the Wall.

The Rav HaKotel locked the Mekhitza and had the police establish a ½ meter barricade to prevent supportive men from providing us with one of the hundreds of sifrei Torah available to them, but not to us. 

He locked the Mekhitza.

If it weren’t so important I’d laugh.  The Haredi are acting like children who don’t want to their toys with their siblings.

The irony, however, is that in this case the parent gave the toy doesn’t belong to one child.  God gave it to all of b’nai Yisrael — the Jewish people; to share.

As the revelation at Sinai unfolds God says to Moses: “Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob and declare to the children of Israel…” (Exodus 19:3) 

Midrash Rabba (Ex. R. 28:2) interprets this verse as indicating Torah was given to all of Israel: men, women and children.  It learns Torah was given to women through the word “bayt — house.”  In rabbinic Hebrew the word “bayit” sometimes is a metaphor for women because the tradition understood that women at that time were the keepers of the home and will determine the spirit of the home.

The point is, centuries ago our ancestors understood that Torah was given to all.

As Shavuot approaches I think it would do all of us some good to remember this.  Our goal should be to open the gates, unlock the doors and let the spirit of God and God’s Torah enlighten us and inspire us.

My right to Torah, and all it means to me, as a Jewish woman, is not something that can be locked away.  I won’t allow it.

I too stood at Sinai.  I too was a recipient of God’s Torah. 

All I want is to be able to renew my relationship with Torah, according to my modern Jewish customs and understandings, at the Jewish people’s most sacred site; the Kotel. 

I will not be locked out.

About the Author
Ziva Wernick made Aliyah in May 2019 after graduating from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science. She is a software developer with interests in medical technology, computer graphics, and cyber security. In her free time she volunteers and has a passion for working with therapeutic horseback riding facilities. She has always felt at home in Israel and is excited to see what this next chapter in her life brings her.
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