Today was a great day with Women of the Wall! Very little drama.
I didn’t count how many men prayed in the men’s section parallel to the Women today, but it was a good number.
Four girls celebrated their becoming benot mitzvah (Jewish adults) during today’s Torah reading. Their male friends and relatives comprised a good portion of the men I didn’t recognize today.
You might remember that, in my last post, I mentioned how sweet it was that Oren remembered me. Well, maybe I forgot what he looked like, maybe he sweetened up, or maybe he just wasn’t there today.
The police officers were much quieter and more polite than the authorities had been the past two months. Part of that might be because I offered them left over sufganiyyot, Krembo, and cake from a party I had last night.
They declined the offer, but they graciously thanked me.
Very Little Drama
To keep things fun, the screaming guy from two months ago made a reappearance. “Every month, they come here!” he shouted in Hebrew. “Don’t they have anything else to do?” (The answer is: most of “them” are in fact working women, students, or busy mothers of busy homes. These women have other things to do. I’m not sure if this guy does though.)
Anyway, our Mizrachi friend who loves to yell got particularly inspired today and chose to shout out a Hebrew recitation of Psalm 92: A Song for Shabbat. His pronunciation was pretty good, but it was also really loud and annoying. To help things out, he added in his own commentary to the Psalm. (“…like a cedar in Lebanon. Who is Lebanon? The enemies! Our tradition hasn’t changed for thousands of years, but they…” or some similarly terrible homily about Women of the Wall being an abomination. He also asked “Who is the palm tree?” and explained that it was the righteous ultra-Orthodox.)
At a certain point, my tolerance for his random, haphazard insights turned for the worse, and I walked over and asked him to be a little quieter. One of the officers ran up to me and, in a calm voice, asked me to return to praying at my seat (which was right next to the mehitzah–victory!).
But I was not the only person who didn’t dig the screaming dude. There was a moment where nearly all the black hatters within 40 feet of him all turned towards him, staring with unsympathetic faces. These haredim stopped what they were doing (praying) and just waited for him to stop what he was doing (bugging everybody).
He eventually lost his steam and stopped.
I don’t know what political side they were on, but a few clearly Orthodox men later came over to me and asked me, in a non-judgmental tone, who the group was with which I was praying. Before I could give these folks articulate answers, the officers asked them to go back to where they had been praying.
It felt to me like the soldiers were honestly and earnestly looking out today for the Women of the Wall.
At the end of our time at the Wall, I saw an officer in the back I hadn’t noticed earlier before. He looked a bit like Oren. But that didn’t stop me from offering my leftovers. He smiled and laid his hand on my shoulder. He didn’t even say no. He introduced himself; his name was Yossi.
“Ani itkhem,” he said. I am with you. But in the plural. I am with all of you.