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.
I grew up in a home with my single mother and two sisters. My mother had one sister, two nieces, and one nephew. When my mother died, our synagogue shipped in the men of the traveling shiva minyan to say Kaddish for her the night of her funeral.
Following a court ruling in their favor, leaders of an organization pushing for women's prayer rights at the Western Wall have withdrawn their endorsement of Natan Sharansky’s compromise proposal to expand the egalitarian section there.
In the game “Truth-or-Dare,” I choose “truth” nearly every time. I’m not much of a dare-taker. Thus, if you and I were playing “Special Edition Truth-or-Dare: High Holy Days,” I would confess that the prayer Avinu Malkeinu provides me with both my second-favorite liturgical moment and my second-greatest pet peeve of the year’s liturgy. (Note: Even though I may have to repent for it, I will leave you in suspense about my favorite liturgical moment and my greatest liturgical pet peeve. Also, “Special Edition Truth-or-Dare: High Holy Days” is fictional, although I hereby declare copyright in the event Mattel or Hasbro comes knocking at my door.)
The start of baseball season reminds me that as a young boy in Southern California in 1965, I thought only one thing when I heard the word “hero”: Sandy Koufax.
Literally, “head of the month.” Rosh Chodesh marks the beginning of each Hebrew month when there is a new moon (when there is no moon visible in the sky).
Literally, “master of t’kiah,” meaning “one who sounds the shofar.”
Literally, “between a person and God.” Refers to the religious or ritual mitzvot, or sacred obligations. The Mishnah teaches that the day of Yom Kippur atones for sins between a person and God.
Literally, “between a person and their fellow.” Refers to ethical, moral, or social mitzvot that govern relationships between and among people.
A Hebrew term for “sin.” Cheit is a Hebrew archery term meaning “missing the mark.” A section of High Holiday liturgy is the Al Cheit, a confession of ways in which we “missed the mark” during the past year.