In a move bound to draw opposition from the Orthodox establishment, feminist activists are planning to hold a first-ever priestly blessing ceremony at the Wailing Wall for and by women. And the estate of the late Leonard Nimoy is helping fund it.
The event, scheduled to be held during the Passover holiday, is being organized by Women of the Wall, the multi-denominational prayer group that holds a monthly prayer service at the Jewish holy site. The blessing will be led by women who trace their lineage to the priestly class known as the “cohanim.”
Last year, the issue of agunoth or “chained women” — women who are unable to remarry — hit popular culture in the form of a movie, “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem.” The Israeli film, nominated for a Golden Globe and selected as the country’s contender for the Oscar’s Best Foreign Language film category, follows the drawn-out legal battle of an Israeli woman trying to secure a get, or bill of divorce, from her recalcitrant husband. According to Jewish and Israeli law, only the husband can divorce the wife.
When I set out to tell the story of a deeper, more intelligent Esther than I initially found in The Book of Esther, I had no idea how ugly some of the rhetoric around women and beauty would become in the next decade and a half.
Editor’s Note: Tim Duggan Books is running a giveaway contest for Sisterhood readers. Click here to enter to win a hamsa-shaped metal charm and a galley of the book.
Editor’s Note: The fight for women’s prayer rights at the Western Wall, or Kotel, has been going on for so long and has so many twists and turns that we thought we’d ask one of the original activists to help our readers understand the saga.