A torah scroll was raised high into the air this morning over New York City’s Madison Square Park during the tail end of the city’s morning rush hour. Men with briefcases and tourists with maps and cameras slung around their necks stopped to watch the prayer service and look curiously at the sign hung nearby, which read “We stand with Women of the Wall.” The women-led service was part of an ongoing effort organized by Iris Richman, a New York-based rabbi, to show solidarity with the Women of the Wall.
The morning service, held in a park with dogs and children frolicking nearby and onlookers observing respectfully, stood in sharp contrast to the events which took place this morning at the Western Wall, where thousands of ultra-Orthodox protesters threw rocks and water bottles at the group of women gathered to pray.
Cantor Shayna Postman, who attended the service, said gatherings like this were important to “show our support for Women of the Wall and for pluralism at the Kotel and in Israel in general.” The same group of women held a Conservative service last month, while the one this morning was led by reform rabbis. The next service will be in the Orthodox tradition. Postman explained that this pluralistic model of support for the Women of the Wall in Israel is meant to show that tolerance and pluralism is possible.
“Being able to channel the feelings we have, the feelings of support but also disappointment and sadness about the things that have happened,” she explained, “We wish to be where we can pray side by side and just be tolerant of each other.”
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Tracy Levy is a freelance writer, producer, and multimedia journalist living in New York City. Her Twitter feed is @TrayLev.