Posts Tagged ‘Women of the Wall’

 

Jew against Jew, Revised

Posted on: October 20th, 2019 by Alden No Comments

This is a prayer for Jews to love each other and not to commit acts of violence against one another. It is part lament and part admonition. This revision is a response to the attack by Jewish settlers on Jewish volunteers helping with a Palestinian olive harvest. An 80-year-old rabbi was among those attacked and beaten by Jews. A friend and a teacher at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Rabbi Meesh Hammer- Kossoy, who was there, wrote, in part:

“The rug has been pulled out from under the truths on which I build my life. I have been betrayed by my own. My understandings of where I am safe and who will come to my aid or endanger me have been shaken. I am painfully aware of how much worse things could have been. Nevertheless, I refuse to let fear run my life. I remain committed to my belief that people, Jews and non-Jews alike, are generally good, that Torat Yisrael is Torat Chessed, that multiple narratives can co-exist.”

I first posted this prayer after my own experience of being attacked by Jews. Charlie Kalech and I were beaten after helping facilitate the use of a sefer Torah by Women of the Wall at the Kotel on Rosh Chodesh Iyyar, April 22, 2015. This revision adds a plea against violence, which was absent from the original piece, as well as the addition of a line from Psalms.

Jew against Jew, Revised
Oh my people,
What has happened to your heart?
What has happened to your vision?
And what has happened to your wisdom?
And what has happened to our love for one another?
Disrespect, misunderstanding,
Condemnation, recrimination,
Fear and anger yielding violence,
A rising hatred of Jew against Jew
That threatens to consume us.
Sinat chinam has attacked the soul of our people.

Ancient One,
G-d of our fathers and mothers,
Grant us a new wisdom and a new vision
To see beauty and holiness
In all of the tents of Israel.
Let no Jew lift a hand of anger against another.

.למען אחי ורעי, אדברה-נא שלום בך
Lma-an achai vrei-ai, adab’rah na shalom bach.
For the sake of my companions and friends,
I will speak of peace. (Ps. 122:8)

G-d of Old,
Guide us back to each other
With reverence and understanding.
Renew our days with love.
Then we will build a temple of song to Your Holy Name,
Resounding from heart to heart,
From soul to soul,
From generation to generation,
The whole House of Israel.

Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d,
You delight in Your people’s love.

© 2019 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: My reaction to my attack was similar to Meesh’s when I wrote: “Do not hate the man who stomped on me. Rail against his misogyny, object to what he was taught, condemn his behavior, seek justice against his violence, if that’s even possible, and seek change in Israeli democracy. But don’t use what happened to me to justify hate or prejudice of anyone.” I first wrote the prayer as an assignment from Rabba Yaffa Epstein at Pardes after a semester of studying the Amidah, a central prayer in Jewish liturgy. May one day soon we forget violence, on that day the love of Torah will be shared equally, with joy, among all of our people.

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Photo Source: Rabbis for Human Rights via Times of Israel

Cornerstone

Posted on: November 8th, 2015 by Alden No Comments

ein-afek-cornerstoneThis 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.” This piece appears in This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer from CCAR Press.

Cornerstone
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.

© 2021 CCAR Press from This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer

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

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Photo Source: Gems in Israel

Jew against Jew

Posted on: April 23rd, 2015 by Alden No Comments

Susan Sliverman with Torah 22 Apr 2015This is a prayer for Jews to love one another. I wrote it a year ago, but it echoes as a response to the violence perpetrated at the Kotel this week. Charlie Kalech and I were beaten after we and other men helped facilitate the use of a full-sized Torah by Women of the Wall at the Western Wall on Rosh Chodesh Iyyar, April 22, 2015. This prayer is part lament and part admonition against sinat chinam, basesless hatred of Jew against Jew. The prayer is the result of an assignment last year by master teacher Yaffa Epstein at Pardes Institude of Jewish Studies after a semester of studying the Amidah, a central prayer in Jewish liturgy. May one day soon we forget the violence, on that day the love of Torah will be shared equally, with joy, among all of our people.

Jew against Jew
Oh my people,
What has happened to your heart?
What has happened to your vision?
And what has happened to your wisdom?
And what has happened to your love for one another?
The seeds of disrespect and misunderstanding have taken root,
Yielding fear and anger,
Condemnation and recrimination,
A rising hatred of Jew against Jew
That threatens to consume us.
Sinat chinam has attacked the soul of our people.

Ancient One,
G-d of our fathers and mothers,
Grant us a new wisdom and a new vision
To see beauty and holiness
In all of the tents of Israel.
Guide us back to each other
With reverence and understanding.
Renew our days with love.
Then, G-d of Old, we will build
A temple of song to your Holy Name,
Resounding from heart to heart,
From soul to soul,
From generation to generation,
The whole House of Israel.

Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d,
You delight in Your people’s love.

© 2015 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Postscript: The photo is from Facebook album by top news photographer Miriam Alster. The album contains beautiful photos of women expressing love of Torah. There are also horrible photos showing what Charlie and I experienced at the hands of so-called ushers and ultra-orthodox men: he was beaten and manhandled, I was roughed up and stomped on. Those photos are important to understand the forces that oppose women’s rights at the Kotel. Yet here I choose to show the celebration, with Rabbi Susan Silverman dancing with Torah. When I was down on the ground, Susan and Charlie’s wife Sarah Halevi rushed toward us to help. Thank you, Susan and Sarah, for coming to my aid. The photos of women expressing love of Torah, those are the photos of the joyous future we desire, Torah for all, b’ezrrat Hashem.

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: WOW Facebook album by Miriam Alster

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