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Posts Tagged ‘Women of The Wall’

Does This Tallit Make Me Look Fat?

Monday, June 25th, 2012

A few days ago another women praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem was detained by police.  This time it was not about how she was praying so much as it was what she was wearing.  The woman involved, Deborah Houben, was wearing her tallit which resembled a man’s tallit.  She was also, apparently, wearing it draped over her shoulder similar to the way a man would wear his tallit.

Photo Credit: Women of the Wall


First of all, I’d venture to say that a man wears his tallit draped on his shoulder because it’s long and gets in the way or using his arms.  It is not a religious statement but a practical one.  Secondly, we are now having a discussion of the details of the fashion of wearing a tallit.  Good thing we didn’t waste that precious time praying to God about hunger, poverty, unprotected children, terrorism in the world - indeed worrying about how a woman drapes a prayer shawl is certainly the way to go.


The Rabbi of the Western Wall seems to be at odds with the police over this one.  He said it is illegal for any woman to wear any tallit and that the police should arrest all the women at the wall who are wearing a tallit.  The police understood the law to pertain only to the issue of a ‘man’ tallit versus a ‘woman’ tallit.

"Tefillin Barbie" wouldn't last one minute in the women's section at the Kotel.


I find it ironic that if any non-Jew visits the Western Wall it would be unthinkable to ask them to remove any religious jewelry that reflected their religion.  We would never disrespect another faith or another person in such a way.  Yet, we do not hesitate to do this to each other.  I can’t help but think of the Sages warning that 2,000 years ago we lost everything because of ‘baseless hatred’.


These same Sages taught us that when we are aware of injustice we must react.  If we say nothing then we have in fact said something, since silence is agreement.

A Sad Moment at the Kotel

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Rachael Posted:

It’s been a while since I had a chance to sit and update my blog but trust me, so much has been happening.  Most of it is good though there are some troubling moments.  Yesterday a woman who studies with me shared her most recent experience at the Wailing Wall, the Kotel in Jerusalem.  She said that ever since the Six Day War, she has made it a point of going to Israel and visiting the Kotel.  To her it is very special because she had lived in Israel in the 1950s and remembers with longing that they could never go to Jerusalem and the Kotel was not quite real to her.  She never takes it for granted and always visits and makes sure to place her hand against the wall making it physically real to her.

This last time she visited Israel and again made her way to the Kotel.  She mentioned being a bit hesitant because of all the politics around women and Torah reading and arrests etc.  In spite of it all she made her way to the Kotel and wove through a packed women’s section.  She politely said excuse me repeatedly (after all, still Canadian even in Israel), and finally was close enough to touch it, having to reach her hand over the heads of some young people who were sitting on the ground right at the Kotel.  She told me she was pushed, stared at and had to endure glares “as if I was from Mars!”.  For the first time she felt like a foreigner.  She walked away saddened reminding herself that these are the very stones and steps her ancestors touched and walked.  It was that thought that saw her through.

I want to share her story with everyone.  If we are foreigners even to each other, how much more so to the strangers in our world.  Politics are the arena for argument but a holy site and a wish to pray are not!

Women of The Wall Response - Rachael’s Weekly Reflection VLOG

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Rachael responds to the recent story of a woman who was arrested for praying at the Western Wall because she was wearing a tallit. Rachael asks how we can speculate what a person’s intent is and what their rights are as a member of the Jewish community.