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Join Women of the Wall in Making History: Women’s Priestly Blessing for Freedom

The first-ever Birkat Kohanot in the women's section of the Western Wall will be especially meaningful as it is supported by the Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy Estate.

This Passover on Hol Hamoed, Sunday, April 24, 2016 at 8:45am join Women of the Wall in praying for freedom at the Western Wall: A large, public women's prayer service including the Priestly Blessing, Birkat Kohanot- by women, for women.

Women of the Wall invite all women in Israel, including those women who trace their lineage to the priestly class, to participate in this prayer and in Birkat Kohanot. Free transportation will be provided for those all over Israel who wish to join the women’s prayer in the Kotel. Register your participation online. For more information and to sign up for transportation, contact Elinor elinor@ngocenter.org.il or by phone: 026203290.

This first-ever Birkat Kohanot in the women's section of the Western Wall will be especially meaningful as it is supported by the Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy Estate. Leonard Nimoy, z"l, grew up in South Boston where he attended synagogue with his grandfather and experienced the priestly blessing on Shabbat morning and is best known for his role as Spock (half-human, half-Vulcan) in Star Trek. Leonard Nimoy employed the ancient symbol of the Priestly Blessing as the Vulcan sign, making it an integral part of his character as Mr. Spock. He took something precious from antiquity and brought it to the “future.” His benediction, “Live Long and Prosper,” takes one of the best messages from the Jewish faith and transforms it into a universal message of peace, purpose and prosperity. 

This service will parallel the tradition on major Jewish festivals where men who trace their lineage to the priestly class (kohanim) stand in front of the congregation and bless the people with hands raised and fingers spread, reminding everyone that blessings pass through people from the Divine Source. Women have never been invited to share in this blessing; it has been considered a ritual afforded only to men - even though this discrimination is not rooted in Jewish Law. 

A women’s Priestly Blessing- the result of a valued partnership between WOW and the Nimoy Estate- is the perfect opportunity to offer women a unique, spiritual and empowering experience on the Jewish world’s stage: the Western Wall. 

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Latest News: Rosh Hodesh Adar II and the Future of Pluralism at the Kotel

On March 11, 2016, Women of the Wall prayed in the women's section of the Kotel for Rosh Hodesh Adar II, amidst protest, whistles and verbal abuse. WOW activists covertly brought a Torah scroll into the Kotel that morning for the service with over 75 women in attendance and celebrating the Bat Mitzvah of Ashira Silverman-Abramowitz, daughter of Rabbi Susan Silverman, WOW board member.  During the prayer service, a Women of the Wall prayer book - written specially by women, for women - was taken by Haredi men protesting in the upper plaza. The prayer book was trampled on by these men and desecrated. 

Rabbi Susan Silverman reflected on her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, “There are certain absurdities you have to set aside in your mind to rejoice in a Bat Mitzvah in the women's section of the Kotel. One, that it is a fight for Jews to read Torah in the holiest site of the Jewish State (we had to sneak one in. Remember missions to bring Judaica to Soviet Jews?). Another is the unkind and disruptive speech ('you are whores, Christians, destroying the Jewish people, insulting God'), noises (whistle-blowing, top-of-the-voice chanting and singing to drown out our hallel)  and gestures (waving hands in the air and twirling a finger at the ear, both, I think, to indicate ‘you're crazy’). 

But once you set a separate place in your heart for that pain, you can rejoice. I cried over a beaming smile as Ashira chanted from the Torah, the Kotel holding a million written, spoken and whispered prayers from centuries, centering her in a spiritual and physical world . My Israeli daughter, amongst loving friends, affirming her place as an engaged Jew in the covenant. It doesn't get better than that. Until the whistle blows like the smashed glass at a wedding and we remember, again, that our job is tikkun. But that's what being Jewish is about. And Ashira is up to the task.”

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz criticized Women of the Wall for bringing a Torah into the Kotel for use by women, even though he keeps 100 Torah scrolls there for use by men. WOW Executive Director Lesley Sachs said, "Women of the Wall will never give up the right to read Torah at the Kotel. We have always been very clear that, no matter what, we will continue this struggle for equality and religious freedom - including Torah for women at the Kotel- in the women's section NOW and UNTIL the new section has been completed.”

This week, the ultra-Orthodox ministers have increased their mounting opposition to the plan for a third, pluralist section of the Western Wall. Even Rabbi Rabinowitz, who approved the Kotel plan before the government passed the deal, has come out against recognition of non-Orthodox Jews by the government. Women of the Wall’s stance remains the same: Women of the Wall negotiated in good faith with the government at the request of the Prime Minister, in order to find a solution for prayer at the Kotel that provides equality and respects women. Until a third, pluralist section is built at the Kotel, WOW continues to pray in the women’s section and fight for the Torah for women, just has they have been doing for 27 years. 

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Looking for the perfect gift for Passover?

Buy the new Women of the Wall Hamsa. Made in Israel, the Hamsa is designed exclusively for Women of the Wall supporters by Yair Emanuel. This original piece of Judaica, a standing outstretched hand, is the perfect gift for the Jewish woman in your life. 

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