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  • The day I Became a Woman (of the Wall)

    10 October 2013

    By Rachel Cohen Yeshurun, October 2013

    I’ve been living in the Jerusalem area for over 20 years. I grew up Orthodox and, being so busy with studies, work, and children, I never thought much about religion and my part in it.

    And then I chanced upon a Facebook post about Anat Hoffman’s arrest for carrying a Torah at the Kotel. When I read that I felt terribly ashamed; ashamed of my country but mostly ashamed of myself for not knowing about this group before, for not being with these people all these years, for ignoring a cause so blindingly right and just. There and then, I swore to myself that I would join these women for the next Rosh Hodesh service.

    And so I did. At the service there was a policeman who kept telling us to “lower the volume”. Did I have to listen to him? I stopped singing every time he said that. I didn’t want to get arrested for singing too loudly.

    There was shouting coming from the left. I was so scared I didn’t dare look around. Next to me there was a woman who must be a regular; her tallit was wrapped comfortably around her and from time to time she told the policeman in charge something which made him back off for a few minutes. I started to concentrate on the tefilah. And it was beautiful.

    Hallel over, we sang our way to Robinson’s arch for the Torah service. By this time I had a bit of a stomach ache so I found a rock to sit on and tried to calm down. You obviously need to be made of strong stuff to be a Woman of the Wall! Then I heard someone asking if anyone wanted to read from the Torah. I volunteered to read the 2nd aliyah. My stomachache miraculously gone, I read the three psukim. Only after, I started to notice things: The guy with the "This is a Jerusalem Feminist" t-shirt, the woman with a baby snuggled in a carrier, the blue sky and warm sun. I can do this again, I thought to myself and vowed, G-d willing, to come back next Rosh Hodesh.

    Postscript: I came back the next month, and the next, and the next. I joined the Women of the Wall board soon after. It's been a privilege and a learning experience - especially learning what the inside of the Jerusalem old city police stations are like (dull!) and most recently, the art of negotiation and leadership (fascinating!).

    Rachel Yeshurun is a software developer in Jerusalem and is on the board of directors of Women of the Wall.


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  • The Day the Bat Mitzvah Marched with the Torah

    09 October 2013

    By Rabbi Ralph P. Kingsley, October 2013

    One of the memorable moments of my thirty-one year rabbinate at Temple Sinai of North Dade was the day that a Bat Mitzvah carried the Torah during the Hakafah on Shabbat morning for the first time. Not only was her face aglow, but so were the faces of the other young women who were at services that day. They understood that a new custom had been established and that they too would be permitted to carry the Torah from that day on. And so it has been. Today no one thinks twice about it. One wonders why anyone ever did. It is so natural and so wonderful.


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  • The Death of Innocence

    20 November 2014

    Since the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers last June and the revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager, we have known that what we are seeing is not just casual violence. Today, it is necessary to see the current situation as structural, not random.


  • The End of Our Study Tour

    19 November 2014

    Our final day began differently. We returned to South Tel Aviv for a panel on shared society. After this meeting we had our last tour -- a walking tour of old Jaffa, followed by lunch, free time, our final wrap-up meeting, and our farewell dinner.


  • The fight for equality is far from over

    24 October 2013

    By Susi Brieger OAM, October 2013

    Australian Jewish women face challenges common to all women in society. Their responsibility as primary caregivers for children, the elderly and the sick hampers their development as spiritual, political and cultural leaders. Nevertheless since 1988 increasing gains have been made in the fight for gender equality.

    In my own field of education, the equal contribution of women has been recognised in Jewish Day Schools with the appointment of female principals. More women could rise to positions of educational leadership if employers and communal organisations recognised the need for affordable care for children and if cultural changes within the communities occurred so that care work could be shared between men and women. In the area of decision making not a lot of progress has been made since 1988.

    While more women lead committees within communal organisations, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the elected representative of the Jewish community has not had a female president; the Jewish Communal Appeal which is concerned with planning and fund raising is predominantly male orientated; currently, only one woman heads a communal organisation in NSW. Without equal representation in communal power structures, the fight for equality is far from over. To facilitate the rise of women as leaders a communal register could be established along the lines of “appoint women” an initiative of the Australian government designed to give women opportunities to be considered for appointment to a variety of decision making bodies.


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  • The Hate Crime Epidemic in Israel Has to be Brought Under Control Now

    06 May 2014

    The hate crime epidemic in Israel must be brought under control. This has got to stop. It is urgent and can no longer be swept under the carpet!


  • The Ins and Outs of Israel

    02 October 2013

    Although anti-Zionists claim that Israel will always be an ethnocentric society that cannot help but exclude and discriminate, we at NIF reject that. For all of its complexities, there’s nothing about the makeup of Israel that leads inexorably to racism.


  • The Israeli Elections: What’s at Stake

    07 January 2015

    The upcoming elections in Israel will have a major impact on the New Israel Fund’s issues – and our issues will play a major role in the outcome of the election.