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 non-profit professional, scholar, public speaker, author, advocate for Jewish causes, and a fighter for social Justice. She is a graduate of Emory University, with a degree in Political Science and a specialization in the Middle East. She has taught courses in Comparative Politics, Political Islam, and Politics of the Middle East at Emory University, Georgia Tech, and Emerson College. Ms. Benger is a published author of both academic and non-academic works. Her academic research focuses on political oppositional groups in Egypt under Mubarak and her non-academic publications can be found with Kveller, North Shore Children and Families, and Binah. She regularly speaks on Democratization in the Middle East, Women in Islam, and Islamist organizations. Ms. Benger has volunteered with various organizations, such as Yad Chessed, Phoenix Hebrew Academy, and Temima High School.
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