Joshua Hammerman
Rabbi, award winning journalist, author of "Embracing Auschwitz" and "Mensch-Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi"

The Voice of the Bridegroom, the Voice of the Bride

When Jeremiah the prophet waxed eloquently about a revived Jerusalem filled with cries of mirth and gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, the voice of the bride, it was clear to him that somehow Jerusalem would continue to be impoverished without the sounds of  both men AND women singing.

Yet, last month, Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center and chairwoman of Women of the Wall, prayed at the Western Wall and was arrested and charged with the “offense” of wearing a prayer shawl and disturbing public order.

In August, I went down to the Kotel to see Women of the Wall and what I heard did not disturb my peace.  Instead, it was a lovely, rousing cacophony of voices, sounding much like Jeremiah must have imagined as he dreamed of Jerusalem reborn.

On the left, a men’s group was singing madly – much louder, incidentally, than the women.  Their location, hugging the divider between the men’s and women’s sections, and the sheer volume of their singing, led me to the impression that they were trying to drown the women out, sort of like a big sing-down at the camp mess hall (perhaps they were also planning to raid the girls bunks that evening).  But the effect, when combined with the soft voices of the women chanting Hallel, to my mind, only added a grander sense of harmony.  This was no disturbance of the peace.

Judge for yourself – I’ve uploaded the video here.

Then listen to the voice of the women by themselves.

Jeremiah could not have imagined it better.

It’s time for the Kotel to be reclaimed for all the Jewish people.


About the Author
Award-winning journalist, father, husband, son, friend, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and rabbi of Temple Beth El in Stamford, CT. Author of Mensch-Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi – Wisdom for Untethered Times and "Embracing Auschwitz: Forging a Vibrant, Life-Affirming Judaism that Takes the Holocaust Seriously." His Substack column, One One Foot: A Rabbi's Journal, can be found at Rabbi Hammerman was a winner of the Simon Rockower award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism, for his 2008 columns on the Bernard Madoff case, which appeared first on his blog and then were discussed widely in the media. In 2019, he received first-prize from the Religion News Association, for excellence in commentary. Among his many published personal essays are several written for the New York Times Magazine and Washington Post. He has been featured as's Conservative representative in its "Ask the Rabbi" series and as "The Jewish Ethicist," fielding questions on the New York Jewish Week's website. Rabbi Hammerman is an avid fan of the Red Sox, Patriots and all things Boston; he also loves a good, Israeli hummus. He is an active alum of Brown University, often conducting alumni interviews of prospective students. He lives in Stamford with his wife, Dr. Mara Hammerman, a psychologist. They have two grown children, Ethan and Daniel, along with Cobie, Casey and Cassidy, three standard poodles. Contact Rabbi Hammerman: (203) 322-6901 x 307