Reflections on Egalitarian Prayer at the Kotel
By Allie Comite
I have been fortunate enough to have visited the Western Wall four times. Each time I go, I am more and more outraged by the lack of gender equality. The women’s section is significantly smaller and we are not allowed to wear kippot, tfillin, or talitot. As a practicing conservative Jew, I believe in equal participation in the Jewish faith. For my Bat Mitzvah, I read the whole double portion just like my brothers did years before me.
On this visit, with Sci-Tech Israel, we visited the egalitarian section. This portion of the wall is also much smaller than the men’s section. Furthermore, one can barely touch the wall in this section. This was extremely frustrating because as a community we wanted to pray together and to experience the same privileges that the men had. However, we were unable to do so.
While we were in this section, our group leader, Rachel, told us a story about the Women of the Wall, an organization that promotes women participation. A few weeks ago for Rosh Chodesh, some women snuck in a Torah scroll because bringing in a Torah to the women’s section of the kotel is forbidden. They then had a beautiful ceremony that Rachel was fortunate enough to take part in. Throughout the service, many women prayed together. Juxtaposed to this wonderful and meaningful ceremony was screeching and wailing from the men and women of the orthodox community. This story also infuriated me. Just because the orthodox sect of Judaism practices in a different way, does not mean that they are entitled to control how everyone else prays. As a conservative Jew, I hope to continue to stand with the Women of the Wall and to promote equal participation in Judaism.