Why I’m Not at the Wailing Wall on Rosh Hodesh

Because I’d have to leave the house at 5 am. Are you kidding? 5 am. I’d have to be up at 4:30, out of the house at 5 and then I’d only be back around 9:30. That’s the first 5 hours of my day wasted.

I’d miss the most productive part of my working day. Probably I’d even end up taking a nap as soon as I got home. The whole day would be shot.

I’m not being flip in mentioning why I’m not up there in Jerusalem wearing my wool tallis. (Wool. In July. You have got to be kidding me.)

I’m mentioning this because this whole WoW thing is out of hand. It was a non-issue. Really, the Women of the Wall had been praying for 21 years at the Western Wall and it was no biggie until 2009. That’s the first time one of the women was arrested.

I know the woman who was arrested. She prayed in my synagogue. She sat in the “people who really want to pray and not gossip” section. She read perfectly when it was her turn to read. It was in Kislev. Kislev! The only reason there was a minyan for Kislev in 2009 was because it was in November. Let me tell you, by Tevet there would barely have been a minyan, with or without a wool tallis. Who wants to go up to Jerusalem at 5 am in the winter?

I’m not joking. WoW could barely get a minyan some months. It was a non-issue. I mean, some of the ultra-orthodox would shout, spit, and throw stones, and the police wouldn’t do much, and the women would just do their thing.

But one day, some idiot decided to arrest someone and since then, WoW never has trouble getting a minyan. This month, they’re saying 300 people are coming.

And there’s the anti-WoW people, W4W, which I don’t understand. Let me tell you, the Wall does not care if you are for it or against it. It’s a Wall. Solomon and Herod built it. You can’t be “for the Wall” any more than you can be for Herod. “Hey, I’m on Herod’s team!”

First of all, I obviously am going to congratulate the WoW organizers. They cleverly realized that this is somewhat of a non-issue to the average Israeli, but a huge issue to diaspora Jews, and they’ve played the press perfectly. What they are doing is aligned with my belief that everyone should be allowed to pray peacefully in any public prayer space, in accordance with her beliefs. Even if I hadn’t grown up in a Conservative congregation, I would have trouble understanding how a few dozen ladies praying is any disturbance to the hundreds of guys in their section. They aren’t praying in the men’s section, so I don’t see how this is really a disturbance to anyone.

Now that we have a few hundred of them, plus another few hundred W4W ladies, that’s really a disturbance. I hope they keep it down so as not to disturb the guys up at the Dome of the Rock. That’s all we need, for them to tell us to keep our voices down and take off our shoes while we’re at it.

Sorry, I digress.

Now, here’s my tip for everyone who wants to get rid of the now huge movement of WoW. The tip is “Ignore them”. Just ignore it. Stop opposing them. Keep your peace.

Every time you oppose WoW, it inspires a few more of us to get up at freaking 4:30 am and drag our wool tallis and matching kippa up to the Wall, along with a Torah scroll or two. If you would absolutely ignore the issue for 6 months, I guarantee you that by Tevet, it will go away. No more than 50 Conservative and Reform women in this country are devout enough to get up at 4:30 am on a weekday and pray at the Western Wall in the rain.

The opposition also makes it a great story for the press, both in Israel and overseas. Opposition + press make this a cause worth fighting for, even though there are a lot more pressing issues to us, like conversion, burial and marriage.

While we’re on the subject, the opposition is making the cause even more legitimate, and finally creating cracks in the laws that have prevented our rabbis from performing conversions, burials, and marriages. We now have court rulings in our favor and representation in Rabbanut councils. I am glad that so much noise is being made. I now have hope that by the time they are adults, my children will have the opportunity to be married by a rabbi they have known their whole lives rather than by a total stranger.

Maybe I shouldn’t be giving you such great advice. Fortunately, I’m not concerned that the Ultra-Orthodox or W4W leaders will listen to me.

The Women of the Wall have one more unfair advantage. They’ve done  done a better job of keeping their  protesters from breaking the law, adding even more legitimacy to the cause. I won’t go into the socio-economic reasons for this, but let’s just say that nobody is particularly concerned that a mob of Reform and Conservative Jews are about to get violent.

You are fighting a losing battle, not because you are wrong (I am not the judge of who is right or wrong.), but because you started out with nothing to gain. The Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox have power and government funding so dramatically beyond their proportional representation in the population that the best thing they can do is draw less attention to their cause — as they did for over 60 years in order to gain that power and government funding. If you have nothing to gain, and the Reform and Conservative movements have nothing to lose — I recommend you stop fighting. Just shut up and let the public lose interest.

If you don’t believe the public loses interest very quickly, just take a look at what happens when you raise VAT by 2%. Right. Nothing. You cannot convince me that the public cares more about WoW than about losing 2% of their money on every purchase. But nobody talked about it and nobody made a fuss, and it’s over.

The power of shutting up is simply immense.

About the Author
Rebecca Rachmany is a content marketing professional providing services to numerous high-tech organizations in Israel and internationally; She is active in her religious and local community, with new projects sprouting up around her at least biannually; Rebecca was born in the US and has lived in Israel for 22 years; She takes a stand for equality, safety, and peace for all peoples