I had come to Israel to join my friend Anat Hoffman, who is one the leaders of the Women of the Wall. The previous month, there had been a random decree that as women were coming in, they were not allowed to wear their prayer shawls, their tallits. I’ve been wearing a prayer shawl since I would say the late '70s, a long time. And it’s just considered a regular part of my ritual in prayer. In 1968, the Orthodox rabbinic created a mechitza, which is a separation between men and women at the Western Wall. And the understanding here in a very traditionally observant manner, in an orthodox manner, is that men are obligated to pray. Women are not. The Orthodox have deemed this site to be a synagogue.
For many Jews, the Yom Kippur fast is one of the hardest and most meaningful Jewish acts they will perform during the year.
The hard work is behind us.
We prayed, chanted, cried, healed, remembered, re-aimed our arrows of good intentions toward the target of new priorities, and reflected on trying not to deflect.
When the words of liturgy are taken too literally, the sacred power of prayer is often lost. In his latest book, Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman offers a way worshipers can transcend the limitations imposed by language.
I have returned again
to this place of
this place of everythingness;
and I feel empty.
I fling my sins,
all bright copper
and colored feathers,
out into the heavens -
I joined America’s Journey for Justice in North Carolina during the week of Nitzavim, a portion that will be read again on the morning of Yom Kippur. It describes for us that moment when our ancestors stood at Sinai to enter into covenant with God.