(Chicago) On Friday morning, May 10, 2013, from 8 am to 10 am, there will be a women-led Torah service at Daley Center on Randolph Street and Dearborn in support of the Women of the Wall and their quest for women to be able to pray freely at Jerusalem's Western Wall. This gathering is intended to focus public attention on the goals of the Women of the Wall and to urge action by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, and members of the Israeli government.
Women of the Wall (WOW) is an organization of Jewish women from around the world who strive to secure the rights of women to pray aloud, read from the Torah, and wear religious garments at Jerusalem's Western Wall, Judaism's most sacred holy site. The group has held monthly prayer services at the Wall for almost 25 years. These services include women singing and Torah reading, with some of the women wearing prayer shawls ( tallit)and head coverings (kippot), which traditionally are considered male attire. These actions have upset members of the Orthodox Jewish community, sparking protests and arrests. Women of the Wall works to make the Western Wall a site where women can pray freely.
The Chicago service takes place on Rosh Hodesh, a holiday celebrating the start of a new Hebrew month. It is being organized by a grassroots association, Women of the Wall Chicagoland, whose members obtained a permit from the City of Chicago for this event. The group invites the public to join them and the press to cover this event.
"We have seen over the ages that individual people acting collectively can make a difference. Women in several cities throughout the country are holding Rosh Hodesh services in support of the freedom to pray openly and independently today. This Solidarity Service has representation from all parts of the Chicago community: synagogues, organizations, and individuals wanting to let the leaders in Israel know that religious freedom must be assured. Diaspora pressure is making a difference!" Carol Goldbaum, Steering Committee Member.
My mother, Beatrice Safran, is a founding member of WOW. She believes strongly in equal rights for women. She has been attending services monthly at the Wall for almost 25 years to support that cause. I have gone with her several times and I have been appalled to see women arrested and taken away for wearing tallitot (prayer shawls). I am proud to attend a Rosh Hodesh service at the Daley Center to support WOW. I am hopeful that change may be coming. Judith Flaxman, Steering Committee Member.
I have prayed on Rosh Chodesh with Women of the Wall in Jerusalem on two separate occasions. I have held their Torah outside the security gate and lifted it after the Torah reading. Each experience has reinforced my belief that the Kotel is, and should always be, a place where Jews are free to pray in their own spiritual way. Doris Schyman, Steering Committee Member.
For more information about events in Israel follow WOW on their website www.womenofthewall.org .il or on Facebook or Twitter. For more information about the Chicago service go to www.facebook.com/events/194539127336912/ .