Much has been written in recent days about the arrest of Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Reform Movement’s Israel Religious Action Center, at the Kotel while wearing a tallit and saying Sh’ma with Women of the Wall and Hadassah. There have been articles, websites, and petitions offered by many groups and individuals, each responding in their own way.
WRJ also has expressed our outrage at Anat’s treatment and joined the chorus of women’s groups and other progressive voices calling for a change in policy by the authorities who manage this historic site. Reform women want Anat and Women of the Wall to know that we stand in solidarity with them and will raise our voices on their behalf.
But we need to do more. If government officials in any other corner of the world tried to prevent us from praying in our own voice, wearing our chosen ritual garb or worshipping freely, we would not be silent. We certainly will not tolerate it from Jewish extremists who have been empowered by the government of Israel to wrest control of our holiest site. The Kotel belongs to the entire Jewish people: women and men, Orthodox and secular and everything in between. We will use every tool at our disposal to secure the rights of all Jews to pray freely wherever they are – including in Israel, including at the Western Wall.
So, I hope you will join women worldwide in the WRJ Sh’ma Smackdown. Create a video of you, your friends, or your sisterhood saying the Sh’ma. Take a photo with the words of the Sh’ma prayer. Send your videos and photos to us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can compile them and post them on the WRJ Facebook page. Comment on this blog post, “like” our Facebook page, and forward this message to others.
Let’s make sure the women fighting for our rights in Israel as well as Israeli government officials hear our voices unified by this message: If anyone tries to diminish our rights or silence our voices, we will respond.
And our response is this:
Hear, O Israel. Hear our voices raised in prayer. Hear our voices declare that the God of Israel is our God. Hear our voices make known God’s message to the world. As long as there is breath in our lungs we will proclaim God’s name – out loud. We will not be silenced.
Hear us, O Israel. Through our tears of anger and anguish, with joy and love for our people, despite our outrage and indignation, hear our voice.
God says, “Cry with a full throat, do not hold back; let your voice resound like a shofar!” (Isaiah 58:1)