by Leah Aharoni
Though I don’t agree with their goals, they could have finally been able to do as they please.
They could have prayed exactly as they wanted, with tefillin and tallit.
They could have read from a Torah scroll (theirs is damaged by water, but many others are available in the holy city of Jerusalem).
They could have touched the stones of the Western Wall and kissed them, uttering a fervent supplication.
They could have sung and danced and rejoiced in the new month of Cheshvan.
They could have expressed their religious yearnings as they see fit.
They could have foregone the confrontations of previous years and done things their way without anyone blinking an eye.
They could have done all that at the new plaza at the Western Wall, built a month ago by the Israeli government and embraced by many leaders of the Conservative and Reform movements. The new section that solved all the technical objections voiced by Women of the Wall over the years: 24/7 open hours, free access, and a wheelchair ramp.
And then there was the other option.
To interject themselves into a crowd of 10,000 women praying in accordance with the tradition of the site.
To remain at the back, far from the Wall.
To sing ever so loudly and disturb all those who left home in the wee hours of the morning to pray.
To forego the Torah reading and make do with reading from a printed chumash (Torah).
To disregard the feelings of others.
To turn the holiest site available to the Jewish People into a media circus, with four camera people of their own and a slew of media reporters.
To give interviews to the already anti-Israel biased European media and perpetuate the contention that Israel tramples religious freedoms and oppresses women.
To drive a wedge between Israel and American Jewry and to alienate this community from Israel, the greatest source of its Jewish identity.
To play the victimhood card.
Unfortunately for all of us, Women of the Wall picked the second option.
Our choices are all we have. They define who we are and what we stand for. Women of the Wall could have chosen the path towards unity, respect, and spirituality. They could have fulfilled their own wishes, while showing concern for those of others.
They could have chosen to show respect to thousands of their sisters with whom they don’t agree, but who pray at the Western Wall by the thousands every day of the year.
They could have become the vehicle for a solution, rather than part of the problem.
And they rejected this choice to our collective detriment, deciding instead to continue the confrontation.