Support for ‘Women of the Wall’

Lesley Sachs, director of Women of the Wall, is detained by police after wearing a prayer shawl at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, April 11, 2013. A local solidarity event for the ‘Women of the Wall’ is planned for May 10  at United Hebrew.

Ellen Futterman, Editor

Hardly a month goes by without Israeli police arresting a woman, or group of women, for wearing a prayer shawl at the Western Wall because it goes against the Orthodox practice enforced at the holy site. Despite a proposed compromise solution for a more egalitarian approach (see related story on page 1), as of today, women are still barred from partaking in religious ceremonies there. This includes holding or reading a Torah, blowing the shofar or wearing tallitot (prayer shawls).

To show solidarity for the “Women of the Wall” movement, which champions the right of women to have equal access to the Kotel, an hour-long Shacharit and Rosh Chodesh service will be held at 8 a.m. Friday May 10 at United Hebrew Congregation, 13788 Conway Road (at Highway 141). The service will be held in the synagogue’s walled courtyard and is open to men and women from all religious denominations and synagogue affiliations.

“There have been a lot of solidarity davening events throughout the United States to show support for greater religious freedom for all women in Israel. We want to do our part here,” said Lynnsie Kantor, one of the organizers of the May 10th service. “This has become something more than just a woman’s issue. It’s something the Diaspora has to be concerned with, too.”

All women who come to the UH service are welcome to wear tefillin, tallitot and/or kippot.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own siddurim. Page number charts will be available for Art Scroll, Koren, Sim Shalom, Mishkan T’fillah, and Kol Haneshamah versions. Light refreshments and coffee will be served following the service.  

For more information, give Kantor a call at 314-406-1214.

Looking hot or feeling hot?

Right now our auxiliary closet, the one I share with my husband – yeah, right! – has seven dresses hanging in contention as I decide which to wear to my stepson’s wedding in late June. It’s become sport for me to order a Mother of the Groom dress online, wait for it to arrive, try it on and then assess whether it advances to possible contender status or is sent back immediately.

I was telling this to my friend Deb, who also is looking for what to wear because her son is getting married later in the summer. Right away, in her inimitable way, she zeroed in on the reality at hand: “Why are you knocking yourself out?” she asked, though it sounded more like a declaration than a question. “No one is looking at us anyhow.”

I know Deb well enough to know she wasn’t being mean. The truth is that at a wedding, any wedding, all eyes are on the bride, as they should be, and not the fifty-something Mother of the Groom. That my stepson is marrying a truly stunning woman (and I am not sucking up) drives Deb’s point home even more so.

But then I wondered, what’s the alternative? Do we just give up caring what we look like at a certain age?

Immediately I thought of the best friend I never knew, the late great Nora Ephron, who was talented enough to turn witty repartee on aging into a cottage industry. As much as Ephron was no fan of growing older (and told us in books and essays), she was even less of a fan of looking bad in the process. In a touching piece in the New York Times magazine in March about the days leading up to her death last year, her eldest son, Jacob Bernstein, writes: “My mother loved looking good. She had her hair blown out weekly. She wore makeup. She had a closet filled with Prada and Armani.”

In lamenting the numerous indignities of growing older in her hilarious “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” Ephron advises readers to begin coverage by age 43 because makeup, Botox and other anti-aging devices are no competition for a bare neck: “Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth. You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t if it had a neck.”

Ephron made us laugh about getting older because, frankly, what the heck else can we do? As much as some of us try, there’s no stopping the aging process. Diet, exercise and surgical procedures may slow it down, but nothing can fully coax it into remission. As cliché as it sounds, getting older is part of life and the best we can do is be graceful about it and try not to embarrass our children.

And so with that realization I called Deb to ask: Do you think it’s too hot to wear a turtleneck dress in late June?

Hundreds more

I must have aging on the brain, thanks to several recent conversations with St. Louisans who are 100 or older.

It started in March when I wrote in the Light’s OY! Generations magazine about five area Jewish centenarians, each of whom turned 100 within a few months of one another. At that time I asked readers to let me know about others in the Jewish community who were celebrating their 100th (or more) birthday so that they, too, could be feted in the paper.

Never to be one to disappoint, readers did let me know about others, including Sam Wool, who turned 102 years old last month (see page 19). And keep checking the Simcha pages of the Light for future centenarian (and plus) celebrations.