The Wall and I

Historic c Barbara Gingold, Jerusalem.

Historic c Barbara Gingold, Jerusalem.

The Wailing Wall is dead – hopefully.

Not just because the term “Wailing Wall” has long been replaced by “Western Wall” or “Kotel” for the remains of the temple mount in Jerusalem but because of the victory – hopefully not short-lived – of Israeli state justice over Black Hats with political pull.

Separate and hopefully finally equal. In the women’s section of the wall, women can now put on all the ritual accoutrements of prayer traditionally worn by men and can conduct services, read from the Torah without getting hauled off by police for offending some Orthodox males in the men’s section of the wall. 

Thank God. Or, more precisely, thank the sanity of the Israeli court system, not to be confused in any way with the beit din, the religious court where women are forbidden to give testimony, let alone judge.

The Wall and I Part One

My own relationship to the Wall goes back to the ‘60s. Heading home to New York after three years in Thailand (Peace Corps teacher then Bangkok Post reporter), I stopped in Israel. I landed in Lod (now Ben-Gurion Airport) on Shabbat – like landing in the bottom of an elevator shaft. Almost no way out.

3 comments on “The Wall and I

  1. Barbara Gingold, Jerusalem on

    And thanks, Amy, for another perspective on the Wall — though I’d say that Rivka Haut (l.) and Geela Rayzel Robinson (r.) were reading the Torah that remarkable day with more determination than sweetness. When I shot that picture — after years of photographing Jewish women’s events from the late ’60s on, including the first Jewish women’s prayer group and women laying tefillin on the Upper West Side (NYC), the first Jewish feminist conference in NY and the first in Israel and even the first meetings of Lilith’s future editors and staff — I knew that that moment at the Kotel was an historic one. The thought went through my head: “This is it, the culmination. Now I can stop taking pictures.”

    Little did I imagine that 25 years or so of battles over the Wall would follow, leaving me (and many other Israelis) alienated from the place, furious that the ultra-Orthodox appropriation of what had been the national as well as the spiritual heart of Israel led the rest of us to simply abandon or flee it. The battle’s not won yet. But I want to thank you and all of WoW’s overseas supporters for their help and support all these years. This has been a classic, empowering example of Israel-Diaspora relations and interdependence (not to mention sisterhood!) — none of us could have done what we did without our counterparts over the seas. Though we may have come a long way, baby, we’ll still count on you to keep going! (And if you want to replenish your stock of WoW cards, let me know.)

  2. Anna Maranta on

    Barbara, If you do have more cards, I’d like to have some. Please contact me maranta dot anna at gmail dot com. Thanks, Anna

  3. Barbara, Jerusalem on

    Shalom, Anna, Apologies for not answering
    sooner; it never occurred to me to check Lilith’s website for replies & I just found your note by chance.

    Yes, I do have more cards (in deep storage) and am
    hoping to get them out before WoW’s anniversary celebration next month.
    Please confirm that you’ve gotten this message, and I’ll let you know as
    soon as I have them in hand. Barbara

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