A Personal Reflection on a Difficult Journey to Liberation

נופת צופיםAccording to a tradition recounted in the 15th century Italian text, Nofet Tsufim-Honeycomb Flow, the rains that fall between Pesach and Atzeret—the festival of Weeks are potent for healing. This I learned from my twig-thin chemotherapy companion Avigail in the day oncology unit at the Sharei Tzedek Medical Center as we sat in the air-conditioned plasticy room, isolated from every element of the natural world. Outside, delectable rain has been falling, even hail, during the first weeks of counting the Omer. A midrash says that the Divine blesses and appoints each raindrop with a specific destination. These days, the divine flow pours compassionately to ease late spring yearnings of the drying plants and earth, defying our prayers for dew. Defying prayers is a theme to which I am attentive these days. Each Sunday I pass through earthly Gates of Righteousness to the wide staircase to heaven where patients and our healer angels go up and down, exchange knowing glances; the infusion tap beneath my wing on my way to deliver blood samples to the lab to get fitness certification for my chemo doses is an obvious identifier. I began a new drug, Taxotere. From the myriad Taxol treatments last round and this, I was developing neuropathy in my right foot and all fingers that made it quite painful to walk – on my feet, and on my hands. To be fair, there were other reasons for the difficulty with walking on my hands. Neuropathy is nerve damage that is sometimes irreversible. Previously, the doctors did not need to worry about these side effects because most did not survive long enough. OS is the euphemistic term, “overall survival”, usually measured in months from diagnosis. Here I am. My mobility is precious to me, and I believe, to survival. Taxotere is a close relation to Taxol. By staying in the family, we aim to achieve its maximum effect before I develop resistance while reserving other drugs for future rounds. Mercifully, I did not suffer any of the immediate side effects of the Taxotere that would dismiss this option. That night, I experienced tumultuous aggression by chemo forces. I visualized Yew tree power assaulting busy mutant cells. Over some supine hours, my abdominal swelling receded significantly and with it some of the pressure and pain that had developed over the Pesach week that both I and my cancer took a vacation from chemotherapy. Actually, the cancer did not take a vacation. My CA 125 marker was well up since my previous treatment two weeks ago. The sobering reality seems to be that I have not achieved any remission since my diagnosis on Pesach a little over a year ago. The chemo beats it down as long as I can take it. It also beats down my immune and other systems. How long can I bear it? Meanwhile I ask hard questions—why do I have such active, healthy cancer in me? What more can I do to slow it down, to live on with, and dare I even imagine, without it? What is the tipping point? In addition to what I estimate to be the finest allopathic treatment, with Shmuel’s support, I am eating meticulously according what I compile from the best possible evidence for my specific illness. Though I have not eaten fish for 30 years, I now follow ample expert advice to consume deep sea salmon twice weekly. Though I have never craved foods before, even during pregnancies, my body welcomes the flesh protein deeply into my cells and I feel strengthened by it.

I called Rachamim the fish monger on Wednesday of chol haMoed Pesach to see whether he was open. His shop occupies a ground floor apartment nestled deep within ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in north Jerusalem. His black-coat and hat-clad clients flock to him for the freshest, highest quality fish to serve between their soup and meat on Shabbat and festivals. He has salmon flown in from Norway every single week-day. Four or five workers bustle in the small pungent space to fill reams of orders on cards fanned out by the cash register. The fellow who picked up the phone asked my name and what I wanted. After speaking with Rachamim, he answered that I should come tomorrow morning at 8:30 am for our weekly dose of salmon fillet. As we approached his area, there was not a single shop open in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. The streets were barren except for the odd tallit-draped fur-hatted scurrying hasid. We passed Rachamim’s shuttered shop. The usual cases of fish were absent from the patio wall. I approached cautiously and peered inside. Rachamin was alone. There was not a fin in the shop, not on the shelf, not in the fridge, none. In his large strong hands, he held one side of salmon from which he would cut our fillets. He scraped the scales, cleaned, sliced, and packaged it for me while he told me of his journey into fish mongery thirty years ago. Kissing me gingerly on each cheek, he extolled my life-force, and gave me blessings for full healing. As I went toward the door, he instructed me to invite him to my feast celebrating recovery. I stepped into the empty street as the door shut and locked tight behind me, my medicine in hand and heart.

I discover myself inside a twisting hasidic story, both familiar and new. You might know of Reb Shlomo Carlebach’s precious yiddele desperate for a child and banished to the horse stable of one of the 36 righteous people of his generation, the Shvartze Wolf. As his last hope slips into oblivion, from a place deep within the soul of the yiddele, prostrate in supplication, explodes a true prayer. Suddenly, he sees the humble abode as the Holy Temple; he beholds the magnificence of the sacred. His breakthrough yields a blessing that opens the gates of heaven. I need an opening. I do yoga, walk, trudge, jog, bike. I visualize health, willfully push pain and illness from within the borders of my being. I undergo expert Japanese acupuncture for chemotherapy. I drip immune support naturopathic tinctures under my tongue and ingest vitamin supplements. Yet, I have been susceptible to every germ that wafts near. More recently, I added therapeutic mushrooms grown under the supervision of a microbiologist from Haifa University. His family lost their father to cancer; they offer a 40% discount to cancer patients. From their exquisitely-designed boxes and glass jars, I have found support for white blood cell-production in my bone marrow—immunity required to tolerate ongoing destruction from the toxins. Into my regimen, I newly introduce TRX training – a full body workout focusing on core muscles, swimming on land. AdirChai who home-sews the straps is my caring trainer. Yesterday, AdirChai, our youngest, returned from his base with his final and formal glorious release from compulsory army service. For the first time in years, Shmuel and I stood at our neighborhood Yom HaZikaron ceremony, the day that Israel embraces the families who have lost their dear ones in these decades of conflict, with our children safely on the other side of those anguishing risks. But my heart was not lighter. I find relief knowing that our children profoundly understand cruelty and loss, have faced evil with competence and, though tainted by cynicism, hold fast to passionate caring. Nonetheless, the pain of sacrifice aches on. Last week we marked Yom HaShoah by attending an exquisite art-thought exhibit. Participants in a two year-long symposium on memory and the Shoah, most of them second generation survivors, have passed the threshold of inquiring about, documenting, dissecting, and interpreting evil. They seek out inspiration, subtle hints of resistance, an ethic to live by and with as their parents take leave from a tortured life. In a video recording, survivor-novelist Aharon Appelfeld declares that from the holocaust we learn love; what else would we want to learn from it? In the morning, I went with AdirChai to his alma mater Hartman high school ceremony–focused on free choice. Under unthinkable conditions, people chose to preserve their humanity, performing acts of dignity, kindness, salvation. The educational message—our way to honor and not to forget is to use the tremendous gift of our own freedom to choose lives dedicated to the goodness of the other, of society, the world. Balanced on a rolling desk chair, Bezalel reaches high and deep into our hall closets to retrieve stored Pesach dishes. He pulls out two well-worn white enamel pots and a mixing bowl. I have a hazy childhood flash memory of my bubby in her kitchen. Stirring with a terrifically long wooden spoon, she sports her traditional wild bright print cotton draw-string pants. That evening with my toothbrush in hand, my bubby stares out at me from the bathroom mirror, a piercing-eyed, slim, white-haired, eighty year-old woman. It is I; I am she. I merge with a chain of generations. At our Pesach seder this year, we each shared from what we aim to free ourselves. In those hours of celebrating the great font of human liberation, a universal story that beckons and inspires every people to release bonds, we opened our hearts. At our family seders, I ingested the possibility of changing the conditions of life, releasing oppression, and willfully choosing our life course, personal and collective. Our animated arguments about the responsibilities of Pharaoh and Israelites, leader and subject, about divine and human power, about how to actualize change in our society seeded in me Exodus as a way-of-life. Over years, I internalized liberation as the spiritual-political-ideological-mythic root and goal of my being, birth and re-birth. Ever-conscious, responsible intentional choice in all spheres is a raison d’être of life itself. I see with the eyes of apprehending the “is” with my mind and heart riveted to fulfilling the “ought”. This seder, I spontaneously spoke aloud my aim to release excess responsibility for all that needs fixing. Might this be a lock on my gate? At a relatively early age when my beloved mother and in many respects my greatest teacher left this world, I felt the weight of the past generation settle on my shoulders. Having left his indelible mark of faith and ruthlessly incorruptible morality branded in my consciousness, my father left not so long after. The great teachers with whom I have had the honor to study, and those who have inspired this generation in the traumatic transition from the Shoah to this new age have also passed on. As I experience the fragility of my own life, I am slowly becoming more aware of and grateful for the capable and powerful shoulders of the next generation. In the next room, AdirChai records the High Holiday evening kaddish in response to a community that intends to hire him to lead services and teach. Bezalel is engineering a device to measure the contractile force of various potential heart-tissue patches including ones laced with gold nano particles—to obviate the need for most heart transplants. In the university of life, Amitai conducts his own field research; in towns, on glaciers, up and down mountains he explores what motivates peoples’ lives in Argentina and Chile, and reflects on the deep meanings and constrictions of Judaism. Uriel writes and oversees the development of complex programs to enable his IDF intelligence unit’s better operation. Tiferet trains to practice empowering, holistic healthcare in a system presently less than disposed. Maya Hodaya takes her first steps, revels in the discovery of our garden, each aroma, grass, seed, and petal a wonder. Liberation lives on. Perhaps with the coming weeks and months of relentlessly seeking remission, I will paradoxically find some release from the unrelenting grip of liberation on my being. Please hold my healing in your hearts and prayers. I send blessings for the liberation you seek in this world.

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My Voice for Change: Radio (Pod)casts

During the last couple of weeks, I was invited to speak on three English-language radio programs. All are available on-line as podcasts. I welcome you to listen (click on the links below), and share your responses.

  • This is a freewheeling conversation with two wonderfully curious, dynamic Orthodox rabbis, Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz, the hosts of “Israel Inspired Radio”. “Can Modern Jewish Feminism Reinvigorate Judaism?,” Voice of Israel, Dec 9, 2014.
  • I spent an hour with Rogel Alpher who hosts a show called Journeys – about the life path of immigrants to Israel. We focus mainly on Women of the Wall and meander a bit into my theater work. At the end, I share some reflections on health and mortality. “The very first woman of the wall,” TLV1 Journeys, Dec 3,2014, and on Haaretz podcasts, Dec 11,2014.

From teaching, writing and even performing, Bonna Devora Haberman shares her ideas about Zionism, Judaism, gender roles, and the Arab-Israeli conflict in this intimate in-studio interview with host Molly Livingstone. Her wise words give new meaning to the Jewish past, present and future, as she discusses her role in change, understanding Jewish text and the concept of birth.

New Class starting this week: Jewish Prayer Experience

Two rabbinic students studying in Jerusalem, Zelig Golden and Eva Neuhaus are organizing a class on tefilla-prayer. I’ll be teaching on Thursdays, 2:30-5 PM starting Oct 23. We will meet for 8 sessions in the German Colony (location details available upon registration). If you’re not in Jerusalem and want to join via Skype, that’s also an option. 750 NIS; sliding scale available. Contact evaclear@gmail.com to register or with questions. Here is a brief description:

Mining Spiritual Jewels of Prayer: 

Close Encounters with Biblical, Rabbinic and Hasidic Sources

The gems of Jewish prayer have many sparkling facets; each refracts the light of the human-divine encounter uniquely. In this series of interactive sessions, we explore roots, meanings, and processes of Jewish prayer experience. We engage with primary biblical, talmudic, mystical and hasidic texts that illumine diverse prayer encounters, their context and conditions. We seek deeper awareness and connection to nuances of prayer consciousness and to enrich our practice. We will address questions and issues of relevance to the participants’ experience. Texts and a small amount of secondary source reading will be distributed prior to each class meeting. In the glow of these precious encounters, we polish and deepen the hues of our prayer intentions, as individuals and as a community.

Earth out of which bread emerges, אֶרֶץ מִמֶּנָּה יֵצֵא-לָחֶם   

Below her is upheaval like fire. וְתַחְתֶּיהָ נֶהְפַּךְ כְּמוֹ-אֵשׁ

In that place her rocks are sapphire, מְקוֹם-סַפִּיר אֲבָנֶיהָ

It contains gold dust too. וְעַפְרֹת זָהָב לוֹ

Job 28:5-6  איוב לח: ה–ו

That locus which is the origin of existence, the awakening of desire, is designated as the “earth [in the sense of the divine ground of “being.” The passage refers to the keter, the primal will of God]. Providing sustenance for all things, it is the source of life, supplying the needs of the upper and lower realms. Earth is changed below as if into fire – its wonderous illumination and pure light, transcending all likeness and comparison.

Its rocks are a source of sapphire”: the quarry of the holy gems, the 22 primordial letters, each and every one an object of value, transformed into a creative vessel. From them holiness draws near, a tower of might is constructed and quarried, “to which the righteous person runs and is safe. (Prov. 18:10)

from Ezra ben Shlomo of Gerona’s early 13th century (Kabbalistic) commentary on the Song of Songs, Intro.

BDH w tallit  

Facing Facebook

our facesYesterday, for a moment, I switched my fb photo to a more current one, one that conveys the face of what I am facing now.

Immediately, I felt too exposed, and changed it back.

But not soon enough.

Electronic waves carried news of the change aloft, though most only saw an automated post of the return to my previous photo.

My current face was washed away into the cyber sea.

I am hiding behind a previous face of me.

What face to show on Facebook?

When I replaced the current photo with the older one, I felt disingenuous.

So here I post the photo of me as I am now, with my dear grand-daughter.

With this post, I send my blessings for healing for all people and our precious planet, for perseverance, for love, and for gratitude for every breath, and delight in life as we unfold.

We all have many faces.

Let us face one another with genuineness and caring.

תקוותינו להיות עם חופשי בארצנו? – מכתב ליהודים במדינת ישראל

אני מבקשת לשאול כמה שאלות חשובות לגבי מקום קדוש לנו:

1 האם אתם מודעים לסעיף רבינוביץ” בהסכם הסדרי התפילה חדשים בכותל העומד להיחתם? קיים סעיף המעניק סמכות בלעדית לחרדים בכל הנוגע לניהול אתר התפילה – תחת פיקוחם של הרבנים הראשיים. ה”ממונה” על הכותל, רבינוביץלבדו יקבע ויאכוף את מנהגי התפילה בעזרת הנשים ובעזרת הגברים.

בעזרת הגברים בראש חודש אדר

בעזרת הגברים בראש חודש אדר

במשמרתו של שמואל רבינוביץ‘, יור הקרן למורשת הכותל – מוסד המונה גברים חרדים בלבד – נשים הושפלו, נעצרו והוחרמו מהן הטליתות והתפילין. רבינוביץעדיין מונע מנשים לקרוא בתורה בעזרת הנשים.

2 האם אתם מודעים לכך שסעיף רבינוביץ‘” סותר את המשפט הישראלי – כפי שנקבע בהחלטתו של כבהשופט סובל בבית המשפט המחוזי בירושלים (אפריל 2013) אשר פירשה את פסיקת בגץ משנת 2003 – הקובעת מפורשות שתפילת נשים עם טלית, תפילין וקריאה בתורה הן חלק ממנהג המקום בעזרת הנשים שבכותל המערבי?

3 האם אתם מודעים לכך שסעיף רבינוביץ‘” מהווה מכשול משמעותי לחופש הדת והפלורליזם בישראל, מתגמל בריונות ואלימות נגד נשים ושמה את הכוח בידיהם של אלה המעלימיםנשים מהמרחב הציבורי – מטרות אשר רבים מכם חשתם דאגה מהם בעבר, וכעת אינו הזמן לשתוק.

כל אזרחית ואזרח בישראל הרוויח/ה רבות מהתמדתן של נשים להתפלל בכותל המערבי במהלך העשורים האחרונים למרות הקשיים. בגופנו ובנפשנו, קידמנו רבגוניות יהודית, מעורבות נשים וחברות מלאה בציבור.

WOW reading Torahאל תתנו למנהיגיכם להתמקח ולוותר על הזכויות שנשים נאבקו בשבילן כי לבחור היכן לקיים את תפילותינו ולחגוג את חגינו ואת שמחותינו – בעזרת הנשים ההיסטורית של הכותל המערבי, המרכז הסימבולי אליו אנחנו שואפים – בתמורת דריסת רגל בקשת רובינסון.

“סעיף רבינוביץ'” ימחק את מקומנו, מקום בנותינו ונכדותינו בכותל. 

אני קוראת לכל אזרח/ית בישראל לשקול מחדש את הנזק שנשים וגברים יהודיים עתידים לספוג כתוצאה מ”סעיף רבינוביץ”’.

לא איבדנו את התקווה. בכל יום, הילדים שלנו מגנים על חופש דת של עם חופשי בארצנו.

מייסדים, חברים ותומכים של נשות הכותל ויהדות העולם מצפים לתמיכתכם – לפני חתימת ההסכם.

אנא השמיעו את קולותיכם בדף הפייסבוק: משאל עם: נשים בכותל

אנא אל תהססו לפנות אלי עם כל שאלה.

דר בונה דבורה הברמן, מייסדת ישראלית נשות הכותל, bonnadev at gmail dot com

להלן קישורים למאמרים עדכניים:

1 ‘קריאת השכמה’ לכל נשות הכותל ברחבי העולם

2 בהארץ: פמיניסטיות דתיות נגד הפשרה בכותל: “השוויון עומד לקרוס”

3 ”בעיתון הארץ כתוב – פמיניסטיות דתיות נגד הפשרה בכותל’’

Pending deal with Women of the Wall would annul regulations banning non-Orthodox practice at Kotel

5 באנגלית– אסירי מצפון: נשים יהודיות בארץ הקודש

4 באנגלית – צומו עבור אסתר, עבור נשים יהודיות ועבור המדינה

Esther Calling: Open Letter to Conservative & Reform Jews

Like you, I support the flourishing of egalitarian prayer. As we pursue this goal in Israel, I ask you some important questions. I would appreciate your kind and prompt attention:
  1. Are you aware of the “Rabinovitch clause” in the proposed Mandelblit agreement concerning prayer arrangements at the Kotel that allots exclusive jurisdiction to the ultra-Orthodox administrator – under the authorization of the chief rabbis? Rabinovitch alone will determine and enforce prayer practice in the women’s and men’s prayer areas. Under Shmuel Rabinovitch, the chair of the all-male ullra-Orthodox Western Wall Heritage Foundation (WWHF), praying women were arrested and our tallitot and tefillin confiscated – humiliating behavior about which many of you expressed outrage. Rabinovitch continues to disallow women from entering with and reading from a Torah scroll. The WWHF agenda is at least as explicitly narrow and exclusionary as the Elad organization whose administration Reform and Conservative leaders vehemently opposed at the Robinson’s Arch site.
  2. Are you aware that the “Rabinovitch clause” contravenes Israeli law – established by the Sobel decision in the Jerusalem District Court (April 2013) interpreting the 2003 Bagatz (Supreme Court) decision – stating outright that women’s prayers – with tallit, tefillin and Torah scroll are part of the accepted custom in the women’s section at the Kotel?
  3. Are you aware that the “Rabinovitch clause” constitutes a severe setback to religious freedom and pluralism in Israel, rewards bullying and violence, and consolidates power in the hands of forces that “disappear” women from the public domain – causes about which many of you have previously expressed concern, and must not now fall silent.
In addition,
  1. Are you aware that 8 women convened as the current WoW board took their decision to effectively cede all women’s rights at the Kotel without the due process required by Israeli NGO law—in violation of the registered and intended purposes of WoW to promote women’s group public prayer in the women’s section at the Kotel with Torah and tallit? 
  2. Are you aware that the current WoW board refuses to convene a proper, legally constituted general assembly where the matter can be discussed and decided by the members and supporters of our 25 year effort, and has no mandate whatsoever to enter an agreement with any party on behalf of WoW?
BDH w tallitThe Reform and Conservative Movements have benefitted from women’s perseverance to pray in the face of tremendous adversity over decades. With our bodies and souls, we have promoted Jewish diversity, women’s inclusion and full membership in the Jewish public.
I call upon Reform and Conservative Jews to re-evaluate the collateral damage that every Jewish woman and man stands to sustain as a result of the agreement your leaders are preparing to autograph.
Here are a couple of current articles:
In her scroll, Esther councils to repeal the edict.
Call upon your leaders to erase the “Rabinovitch clause”.
In sacred space, we ought to conduct ourselves with our finest sacred values.
Do not let your leaders bargain away women’s hard-won freedom to practice where we choose – in the women’s section at the historic, symbolic center for which we yearn – in exchange for a foothold in sacred space.
With your help, we will keep a place for you here.
I end with a precious quote from the Megilla that prompts awareness, motivates transformation, and activates responsibility to prevent an edict against Jews from being fulfilled. In Shushan, the power was in the hands of a bungling foreign king; in Jerusalem, we have achieved, and our children defend Jewish freedom of religious practice:
מי יודע אם לעת כזאת
“Who knows whether it isn’t for a moment like this that you have attained your power?”
Please do not hesitate to contact me for any needed clarification.
Longstanding founders, members and supporters of WoW, and Jewry throughout the world look forward to your prompt responses with anticipation – before the edict is sealed.
Please write on the fb page: Referendum: Women at the Kotel.
With blessings for a joyous Purim,
Bonna Devora Haberman, Israeli founder of WoW

Fast for Esther, for Jewish Women and our State

The decree was given out in Shushan the capital; and the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city of Shushan was perplexed.
                                                                            Scroll of Esther 3:15
Soon a new edict is to be signed in the halls of power. The signatories plan to seal an agreement in private chambers while we are unaware of its clauses or effects.
The Mandelblit agreement proposes to ban women’s public prayer with tallit, tefillin and Torah from the Kotel – in our generation and for generations to come.
Whether you agree or disagree about women wearing tallitot, binding with tefillin, and reading from the Torah, the Mandelblit plan threatens to undermine a core tenet of our precious state, a rare phenomenon in our region, one which our children serve to defend every day – religious freedom.
Under administrator Shmuel Rabinovitch’s jurisdiction, police confiscated women’s tallitot and tefillin, arrested praying women, and continue to prohibit women from reading from a Torah scroll at the Kotel. The current law of Israel upholds women’s freedom to pray with tallit, tefillin, and Torah in the women’s section at the Kotel (Justice Moshe Sobel, April 2013 interpreting Supreme Court ruling, 2003).
If you embrace –
  • coercive enforcement of sectarian prohibitions;
  • the repression of women, Jewish faith and its diverse forms
  • the exile of women who yearn to pray in our historic, public sacred space, and
  • the empowerment and reward of intolerant bullying with territorial hegemony

stop reading now, and let the Mandelblit agreement roll!
The 25 year-strong struggle of Women of the Wall is at a precipice.

Esther reveals treachery in the halls of power –
for we are sold, I and my people                 Scroll of Esther 7:4
The Mandelblit agreement proposes to betray religious freedom and women’s rights.
Purim is a time of revealing what is hidden, of unmasking and redressing the machinations of power. In dire hours, when the edict is about to go into effect, Mordecai calls upon Esther –
If you remain silent at this time . . .
you and your father’s house will perish.
Today also, silence is acquiescence.
Mordecai’s exhortation to action applies timelessly to all of us –
Who knows whether it is for a moment like this
that you have attained your power?         Scroll of Esther 4:14
מי יודע אם לעת כזאת
Queen Esther resolves to intervene to prevent the edict from taking effect, in spite of the tremendous risks of speaking truth to power –
And so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law;
and if I perish, I perish.                             Scroll of Esther 4:16
Mordecai immediately accedes to her authority –
So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.                                      Scroll of Esther 4:17
The Kotel is a symbolic center of Jewish sacred, historical and spiritual life.
What happens at the Kotel ripples forth on a sea of world attention.
The health and flourishing of Israeli civil society are jeopardized by religious and gender repression.
In 1917, women pray without any barrier on the side of the Kotel closest to the Holy of Holiest

Women and men pray at the Kotel, 1917, Matson collection, Library of Congress

Women have been praying at the Kotel for centuries, evolving our traditions. Today more women than ever in the history of the Jewish people are engaged with, committed to, and contributing to Jewish study and practice.
Prioritizing life over the infallibility of sovereign power, Queen Esther calls upon a king to repeal an edict (Scroll of Esther 8:6).
Today, call on the government of Israel and/or the current WoW board –
  1. to retract the clause in the Mandelblit agreement allotting exclusive jurisdiction over the women’s section to an ultra-Orthodox administrator, Shmuel Rabinovitch
  2. to uphold Israeli law according to which women’s prayer with tallit, tefillin, and reading from a Torah scroll are part of the accepted custom in the women’s section at the Kotel.
Esther faces and overcomes male authority bent on oppression.
Faced with Esther’s petition, the king conciliates superbly –
‘Whatever your petition, Queen Esther, it shall be granted to you;
and whatever your request, even to the half of the kingdom,
it shall be performed.’                                  Scroll of Esther 7:2
Perhaps male figureheads in our time could take a cue from the Scroll of Esther.
Women’s full visibility, leadership, and power are as desperately needed now in the Jewish People and throughout the world as in Esther’s day.
Let us follow Queen Esther and overcome narrow interests that threaten the greatness of our endeavor – let the State of Israel welcome and sustain women’s freedom of religion.
On the Fast of Esther, we hunger to annul an impending edict of repression.
To express your voice in support of Jewish women’s religious freedom, click on Referendum: Women at the Kotel.