APPLY ONLINE
DONATE NOW

 


 

Archive for the "Class of 2009" Category

Why the Kotel Compromise Just Isn't Good Enough

February 04, 2016
By SSLI Alumni Department

Published by Forward.com on January 31, 2016 - click here.

By Gabriela Geselowitz

When I woke to the news about the new policy for the Kotel, I was surprised to see so many of my friends celebrating. I suppose I should be, too: I’ve been wearing tefillin since I was bat mitzvahed over a decade ago. In that time, I have been to Israel twice, first with my high school, and then on Birthright one year ago. I’ve always closely followed the Women of the Wall and waited for a time when I, too, might worship the way I want at the Kotel.

The new compromise is just that: a compromise. While it’s nice that now it won’t take a treasure map to find the egalitarian section, and that the section will no longer be the size of a New York City loft, it hurts that if I want to pray at such a holy site in a way that feels meaningful to me, I have to go to a part that isn’t from the postcards, the documentaries, the images of Jewish Jerusalem that the world knows.

When I was 18 — my first time in Israel — my greatest wish was to get to the Kotel, which I visited twice that trip. I knew going in that I wouldn’t be able to pray there with my tefillin, an act that makes me feel closer to God. I didn’t know that I had picked the wrong T-shirt; the “Modesty Police” told me that my sleeves were too short, and made me wear a shawl that felt as though it had touched lots of sweaty shoulders already that day. But despite this, I had a rich spiritual experience. I felt like I had spent my life waiting to fulfill clichés that felt rich with meaning anyway: to daven, to find a spot to slip in a note, to kiss the stone.

When I returned at the age of 23, I looked forward to the Kotel once again. But when the group got there, the experience felt more strained, more frustrating. A few short years of living as a woman in the “real world” had drained me. As I tried to pray, a group of Orthodox women behind me giggled and took selfies. I tried to remind myself that their experiences were just as valid as mine; that not everyone had to be rocking and mouthing words to have a spiritual connection. But I felt almost naked; I wanted my tallit and my tefillin, and I felt that I desperately needed those things to have the experience that my boyfriend might be having on the other side of the wall — the much, much larger area where the men were unafraid to loudly celebrate.

Posted in Class of 2009

Categories

Search by Keyword(s):
(separate multiples with a comma)

Recent Posts

4/15/19 - By SSLI Alumni Department
8/18/16 - By SSLI Alumni Department
2/26/16 - By SSLI Alumni Department
2/4/16 - By SSLI Alumni Department
1/29/16 - By SSLI Alumni Department
Important Info.