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Feb 15 2013

Friday Night: What’s Truly Holy About the Western Wall

By at 1:57 pm

women of the wall prayingThe Western Wall or Kotel, archaeologically impressive though it may be, is not holy to me in a conventional sense–and recent events have made it less holy in my eyes, though not in the ways you might think.

Many, many Jews consider the Western Wall to be holy because it is the oldest remaining structure from the time of the Temple. It’s not, mind you, even a wall of the Temple itself–it’s just a retaining wall around the Temple Mount. To me, this makes the wall interesting, poignant, historically critical, and relevant–but not inherently holy. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 22 2013

The Western Wall is For Me Too

By at 11:57 am

For me and my children, one of the highest things on our to do list when traveling to Israel was to visit the Kotel, the Western Wall.

Before our trip, I had quickly read about, but not dwelled on, the arrest of Anat Hoffman, the leader of Women of the Wall, in October, allegedly for singing the Shema out loud at the wall and for wearing a tallit (prayer shawl). For a woman to wear a tallit while praying at the wall is against current law: in 2003, Israel’s Supreme Court upheld a government ban on women wearing tefillin (phylacteries) or tallitim at the Wall, or reading from the Torah at the Wall. I was shocked to read of Hoffman’s arrest, but her act of wearing a tallit didn’t resonate with me, as I have never worn one, despite attending Conservative shuls my entire life and being bat mitzvahed. Read the rest of this entry →


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