By Susan Silverman, October 2013
When I became a Woman of the Wall, I became more fully Jewish.
I had been a rabbi for almost 20 years the day I was rounded up, with nine other women – including my seventeen-year-old daughter – by police for wearing a tallis and praying out loud at the kotel. That day was followed by a lot of forced introspection – the media requests for interviews came flooding in.
I knew in my heart why I was there. My Jewish practice called me to it, the desire to join the historic flow of Jews at that place called me to it, feminism called me to it.
But over the weeks of forced introspection, I realized something much deeper and more existential. Judaism was at stake for women and men. For all our children. For the Jewish future. I had always felt that the centuries of missing women’s voices had created a skewed Judaism – like a tree that had been deprived the right balance of sustenance. Now a narrow, idolatrous view of God and covenant was being codified in civil law! Mitzvot were more and more the jurisdiction of Hareidi Jews, becoming ends in themselves, not building blocks for a society in which the prophets could rejoice.
With WoW, I realized that my feminist, progressive fight was for the deepest purposes of our nation.
Rabbi Susan Silvermanis a writer and activist. She and her husband, Yosef Abramowitz have five children and live in Jerusalem.