Women of the Wall: Claiming Sacred Ground at Judaism's Holy Site

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9781580231619: Women of the Wall: Claiming Sacred Ground at Judaism's Holy Site
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An Inspiration to All Who Struggle for Religious and Gender Equality

“Our souls yearn to pray, in peace, in the sacred place, to read from our holy Torah, together with other Jewish women.”
―from the

In Israel today, the historic Western Wall, known as the Kotel, a holy site for Jewish people, is under the religious authority of the Orthodox rabbinate. Women have only limited rights to practice Jewish ritual in its precincts.

This passionate book documents the legendary grassroots and legal struggle of a determined group of Jewish women from Israel, the United States, and other parts of the world―known as the Women of the Wall―to win the right to pray out loud together as a group, according to Jewish law; wear ritual objects; and read from Torah scrolls at the Western Wall.

Eyewitness accounts of physical violence and intimidation, inspiring personal stories, and interpretations of legal and classical Jewish (halakhic) texts bring to life the historic and ongoing struggle that the Women of the Wall face in their everyday fight for religious and gender equality.

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About the Author:

Phyllis Chesler, a founder and board member of the International Committee for Women of the Wall, has been fighting for Jewish women's religious and human rights for more than thirty years. She is a psychologist and the author of eleven books, including Women and Madness and Woman's Inhumanity to Woman. She cofounded the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women’s Health Network.

From Publishers Weekly:

For the past 14 years, a multidenominational group of women has tried to conduct a women's prayer service-Torah scrolls, prayer shawls and all-at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Since their first attempt to pray there in 1988, Women of the Wall (WOW) has engaged in a political, legal and religious struggle against the State of Israel that continues today, though the group is hardly anti-Israel or anti-religious. This anthology traces the genesis, history and impact of what is now an international grassroots effort on behalf of Jewish women's religious rights. Haut, an Orthodox Jew, and Chesler, a feminist author and psychologist, present essays from 30 women who recreate the drama of praying together; explore the Jewish legal issues around women wearing and using ritual objects, and express their deep connection to the Wall. The essays reflect the diversity of voices, but the repetition of basic information in almost every piece slows the narrative flow and dilutes the book's power. The first two descriptions of the first prayer service, at which the women were "cursed, threatened, pushed, shoved, spit upon and bitten," injured by heavy metal chairs thrown at them, hospitalized and arrested, are horrifying. By the fourth mention, however, it's almost old hat. Still, the universal themes that erupt in this specific context are worthy of broad reader interest: discrimination, democracy, religious pluralism, anger at the silencing of women, solidarity, sisterhood and the sacredness of place.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9781683365037: Women of the Wall: Claiming Sacred Ground at Judaism's Holy Site

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ISBN 10:  1683365038 ISBN 13:  9781683365037
Publisher: Jewish Lights, 2002
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