This prayer honors the pioneers and advocates for women in Jewish religious life and communal leadership. The idea came to me one Rosh Chodesh morning at the Kotel while singing Hallel in support of women’s rights at the Kotel. As we sang these words from Psalm 118 – “The stone the builders rejected is become the chief corner-stone” – I thought: “Sisters, you are the stone that the builders rejected. And you’ve become the cornerstone of our future.” That’s exactly what the Rabbinical Council of America fears and only last week they banned women rabbis. They fear that women will uncover wisdom and secrets in Torah that men have missed or dismissed for generations, leading Orthodoxy in new directions, just like the pioneering women in Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Judaism. I say, lead on.
Build a house of glory to G-d,
Build a house of praise to our Maker:
A house of prayer,
A house of song,
A house of Torah,
A house of truth.
Sisters of Israel,
How wondrous that your voices resound in our tents,
That your insights echo in our streets,
That your prayers have become our song.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
The heart the builders rejected has become the fountainhead.
The service the builders rejected has become the foundation.
The wisdom the builders rejected has become the teaching.
G-d of our ancestors,
Bless the women who lead our people,
Rabbis and cantors, educators and activists,
Philanthropists and organizers, scholars and researchers,
Expanding our understanding and love of Torah.
Bless the work of their hands and the work of their hearts.
Rejoice and be glad.
Let the struggle continue
Until no one questions your birthright,
Until no one denies your place,
When the Kotel is redeemed
And the agunah is freed,
For your light will free us all.
All Your works praise You,
Adonai our G-d,
And the righteous bless Your Name.
© 2015 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.
Postscript: In Psalm 118, ‘the builders’ refer to two non-Jewish B.C.E. sources declaring that Israel has been destroyed. Here ‘the builders’ takes on a different meaning, referring to any Jewish authority or individual that oppresses women. Here’s a link to a related prayer called “Messengers among Us,” which asks if we’d recognize G-d’s messengers if they “…were women in talitot and t’fillin, winging freely, full voiced, Shema Yisroel…” See also “Jew against Jew,” a prayer to end sinat chinam written after experiencing hatred expressed toward women at the Kotel.
Tweetable! Click here to tweet this: “Sisters of Israel, how wondrous that your Torah resounds…” Prayer for women rabbis and leaders by @ToBendLight. http://bit.ly/1PvQqig
Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo Source: Gems in Israel