Hallel is my favorite prayer service. As an individual who cannot carry a tune in a satchel but loves to sing and loves the psalms, I find a Hallel [psalms 113-118] sung with gusto a great opportunity to join my off-key voice into a larger sound of praise.
So, as I watched video of Women of the Wall suffering through abuse for raising their voices in prayer on Rosh Hodesh Av and heard reports that a loud Hallel appeared to be a driving force behind the arrest of WoW Chair Anat Hoffman, I decided I would have to raise my voice…in Hallel for the new month, as a wake up call toward a more just new year and in solidarity with WoW.
Rosh Hodesh Elul
a cross-community celebration
in solidarity with Women of the Wall
and for a better 5771
Location: Adas Israel, 2850 Quebec Street, NW
(Metro: Red Line, Cleveland Park)
Time: 7:30 a.m.
Women of the Wall, or Nashot Hakotel נשות הכותל in Hebrew, is a group of Jewish women from around the world who strive to achieve the right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem, Israel. The Western Wall is Judaism’s most sacred holy site and the principal symbol of Jewish people-hood and sovereignty and Women of the Wall works to make it a holy site where women can pray freely. WOW chose Rosh Hodesh as the day to gather as a women’s prayer group and celebrate, through prayer at the Wall and reading the special portion for Rosh Hodesh from the Torah scroll.
A non-denominational group of women and men will be gathering in Washington, DC, on August 11, for Rosh Hodesh Elul in solidarity with WOW and to begin our own journeys toward the new year. Like the services held by Women of the Wall in Jerusalem, the DC service will accommodate participants from across the Jewish spectrum. While women will lead services, men are encouraged to come.
Please bring a tallit and a siddur, if you are able to do so.
A number of people have asked, so: Yes, we will blow shofar, as is traditional throughout Elul, beginning on the second day of Rosh Hodesh.
An inter-denominational group demonstrated outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, on July 22 in support of religious freedom in Israel, in opposition to the arrest of Anat Hoffman for carrying a Torah at the Kotel and in protest of growing violence against women throughout Israel.
Hoffman is the Executive Director of Israel Religious Action Center and chair of Women of the Wall. She was arrested on Rosh Chodesh Av (July 12) as WOW held their usual monthly service. A woman who was with WOW on July 12 described the event (see second of three demonstration videos). She reported that the arresting officer became visibly upset as a female cantor sang Hallel (psalms of praise recited on festivals, Rosh Chodesh [beginning of a new month] and Chanukah.)
Where will we stand — and how loud will we be — on Rosh Chodesh Elul and in the new year?