Rosh Chodesh Kislev,
a new month on the Jewish calendar,
and in Jerusalem, Israel
time for another episode and photo essay of
the Women of the Wall (WoW) and the Women for the Wall (W4W).
As I went down the steps toward the Kotel, the Western Wall,
I met a young new oleh from France who asked me what was going on,
after trying to explain I gave up and just said
” It is Rosh Chodesh today.”
There was less over the top security this month
and the view below was different,
but every month I have gone there has been a different scene.
Early in the morning at the Kotel, the Western Wall Plaza,
there were thousands already below,
and many more people waiting to enter at the main security gate.
This man found a way to beat the line,
as he went under the barrier at the other entrance.
For the first time, part of the plaza area was cleared,
and equipped with a stretcher and medical equipment.
On this 25th anniversary of WoW Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel,
the police and security people were ready.
Security was lined up.
but there were fewer young boys than in the past,
and much less trouble.
One whistle-blower was in the men’s section, as he covered his ears,
he was not the only one trying to block that awful noise.
Sound was all that would get from the men’s side
to the women’s side with these security barriers.
Women of Wall sang loudly.
I am not sure who comes up with the estimates in crowd size,
maybe it is those watching from above.
But besides many women from the US who came for this event,
there were W4W and many female press,
mixed in with thousands of girls and security,
all packed in the small area together.
One thing there is no argument about,
WoW sang their Rosh Chodesh service as loud as they could,
loud enough so that the few men on far side could hear them.
Many women wore prayer shawls,
but there were also ear pieces and microphones.
Trying to keep the singing in unison required many conductors as well.
And there were many cameras, but no violence,
and so the international media has become bored and was missing.
WoW seems to love to play to the camera,
I mean, pray to the camera.
Thousands of young women and girls were at the Kotel.
Many come with serious intentions to pray at this holy site,
and some are not even Jewish,
but sincere tourists from around the world.
Say what you want about W4W and bringing school girls on Rosh Chodesh to fill the plaza,
but some of them do feel the seriousness of the site
in spite of the media circus.
For twenty-four and a half years WoW held their Rosh Chodesh service with little notice.
I sure hope at their 25th anniversary WoW banquet
the idiot who was responsible for arresting a woman in a talit last spring
gets an award for providing more publicity and recognition,
then any PR firm with a huge budget could dream of.
A new area has been set up near the Kotel for egalitarian prayer services.
Will WoW accept the compromise,
or will their male supporters be left in the back behind a divider?
Guess we will have to wait until next month to see what happens.
More photos from Rosh Chodesh Kislev HERE.