Wow, is it really momma’s yahrzeit again? Has she really been gone for so long? Wow.
You know what WOW stands for don’t you? WOW stands for Women of the Wall. WOW stands for women who are standing up for their rights as human beings and as Jews. This is a group of women who once a month head over to the Kotel, the Wailing Wall, to pray … and they do something that my mother never did (at least, not that I know of), but my wife did right here at our Temple, wear a tallit, a prayer shawl.
The first time I did the High Holy Days here, I don’t think that any woman had worn one during the services and, if they did, I think maybe they would have been shot … or spit on, or yelled at.
The truth is that as soon as Carol put on her tallit, she was immediately reprimanded in harsh tones and harsh glares. But, it was not one of the men in the Congregation who did so. No, it was one of the women.
My wife was a Brooklyn girl and, as such, she knew how to open up her mouth. I don’t know what Carol told her, I do know that by the end of the service the woman was quite taken by her.
The founding documents of this great country, that we are blessed to live in, states, “We hold these truths to be selfevident: that all men are created equal.” Notice it doesn’t say anything about women, nor does it say anything about slaves. Slaves have been looking for freedom throughout all time … and women, too, have been looking for the same freedom as men have had…
Fortunately, there have been many changes in the world and many changes in our faith since my mother and my wife passed away.
It is no longer an uncommon sight to see women in a Conservative Shul wearing a tallit. It is no longer unusual for a member of a Reform Synagogue to wear a Yarmulke. It is not unusual for a Conservative Shul to be egalitarian and count women toward the minyan and call them up for any and all honors. And even the World of Modern Orthodoxy is moving in directions that many never believed would come as Rabbi Avi Weiss just ordained a group of women.
Yet, in Israel, there is a politically powerful “Ultra Religious Minority” who would still keep women in the back of the bus, who would still keep a woman from wearing anything that shows a little arm or a little leg … and, who would still try to keep women from praying at the Wall, especially if they happen to be wearing a Prayer Shawl. WOW!
How would my wife and my mother respond to the Women of the Wall? My wife would probably have flown to Israel to be with them. My mother might never have chosen to wear a tallit. She might not have chosen to be called up for an Aliya. But, I will tell you what I think she would have done. I think she would have rooted them on … and, if anyone tried to stop them … well, I think she would have been one of the first to raise her voice and, if necessary, her fists.
Come to think of it, I think my mother of blessed memory just might have wound up getting herself locked in jail defending the rights of the Women of the Wall. So, if you ask me what kind of woman my momma was, I can answer that in one word … WOW!
Shalom my friends,
Rabbi Craig H. Ezring
Rabbi Ezring is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel of Deerfield Beach. High Holy Days tickets are now on sale in the Temple office off of Hillsboro and Military. Regular Shabbat services are open to everyone on Saturday mornings from 10 to 11:30 a.m.