Weekly roundup – Noach

Women of the Wall being prevented from entering the women’s section of the Kotel with Torah scrolls, Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan 5780. Image via @religion_state.

On JWA’s Rising Voices blog, Shoshanna Hemley wrote about her experience as an activist for gun control in the US. As an Australian the continued US inaction on gun violence is completely baffling, so it is fantastic to see strong Jewish women like Shoshanna raising their voices on this issue.

On Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, the Women of the Wall once again faced violence for simply praying at Judaism’s holiest site – the Kotel. They were prevented from entering with Torah scrolls and were pushed by security personnel. Unlike the men’s section, the women’s section does not have any scrolls available for public use.

Dr Shaiya Rothberg, an academic at the conservative yeshiva in Jerusalem, was later arrested for rebuking a young man who had spent 45 minutes yelling vulgar insults at the Women of the Wall group (this young man was not arrested).

Judaism belongs to all Jews – of all genders, movements, levels of observance. That includes its holiest sites and objects. It is incredibly exhausting that we need to keep fighting for these basic rights, but we do, and it is inspiring that the Women of the Wall and Dr Rothberg are willing to stand up for this.

To gain an understanding of the importance of Women of the Wall’s work, read Sasha Rosenfeld’s account of how she came to view the Kotel as a feminist symbol:

“I learned to appreciate the Wall in a different way, as a symbol of empowerment and feminism, and that gives it much more meaning to me. In the Women of the Wall’s movement, I see two critical parts of my identity, Judaism and feminism, working together. I came to realize that, to me, the Wall wasn’t an object of reverence, but an object of feminist resistance.”

Rabbi Ruth Adar wrote an interesting piece on her Coffee Shop Rabbi blog about conversion to Judaism and how we refer to how Jews became Jews (e.g. ‘Born Jew’ or ‘Jew by Choice’). She makes the argument that ‘Jew by Inheritance’ may be a more accurate term than ‘Jew by Birth’:

“Judaism is not a biological thing: it is a precious possession, a valuable inheritance, or something that a ger tzedek has striven and made sacrifices to obtain.”

Finally, make sure to read some of Feminist Yomi’s collection of commentaries on Noach.

Shavua tov.

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