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Karolyn Benger

We are all Jews

Friday afternoon, before I took in Shabbat, I engaged in a discussion with a vocal critic of the Women of the Wall movement. I challenged her statements that they are creating a disturbance at the Kotel, that they are violating halacha, and that should not be allowed to pray.

Motzei Shabbat, I was saddened to see that the discussion and denouement of Women of the Wall continued. While a shul had been desecrated during Shabbat services, members of our community chose to be divisive. When Jews were in the hospital healing from bullet wounds other Jews were debasing each other. As families sit shiva for their loved ones our broader family decried their form of religious practice.

Let me be clear: Jews were killed because they were Jews. Because they do not pray in the way the shooter wants.

How can we critique another Jew’s prayer now of all times?

Anti-Semites do not care if women read from the sefer Torah.

A neo-nazi is not concerned whether the mechitza is halachic.

And the white supremacists do not argue about kevod tzibbur.

My fellow Jews, if never before then now, during this time of tragedy, accept of all forms of Jewish prayer. Egalitarian, Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Humanists, Jewish-Buddhist… I beg you. We must stand together.

If ever there was a time for our community to unite it is now.

If I am not for myself, who is for me?

About the Author
Karolyn Benger is a Rabbinical student at Yeshivat Maharat (2026). She was the Executive Director of the Phoenix Jewish Community Relations Council and Executive Director of the Atlanta Jewish Interest Free Loan. She graduated from Emory University with a degree in Political Science, specializing in the Middle East, and studying Arab and Islamist opposition groups in Egypt. Karolyn has taught at Emory University, Georgia Tech, and Emerson College. She is a board member of the Arizona Interfaith Movement, was a member of the Valley Interfaith Project’s 3rd Monseigneur Ryle Public Policy Faith Leader Institute, and was a mentor in the Women’s Leadership Institute. Karolyn speaks regularly about Women in Judaism, Dynamic Changes in Jewish Law, Modern Day Challenges to Halacha, and much more. Her writing has been published in the Arizona Republic, eJewish Philanthropy, Ritualwell, The Times of Israel, and Bina.
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