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As Chair of Women of the Wall, my prayers are being answered. For the last 24 years we have been going to the Western Wall with only one goal in mind: to pray with a tallit (prayer shawl), and to pray in full voice. This struggle for our rights as Jewish women has put me in newspapers as well as in prison. My intention from the beginning was neither. I simply wanted to pray at Judaism’s holiest site. That is still my desire.
When you dedicate yourself to a cause there are many peaks and valleys. We have been dwelling in one of our deepest valleys in recent months as the ultra-Orthodox rabbis who run the Western Wall Heritage Foundation (the body that administers the site) and the police precinct that protect it ramped up their harassment of our efforts to pray at the Wall. Each month there were detentions and other forms of intimidation, but we did not relent.
Each month our numbers grew, and the support from all over the world kept increasing the pressure on the government of Israel to change the situation.
Finally, last April, Judge Moshe Sobel of the Jerusalem District Court issued a groundbreaking ruling saying our group was not illegal and we would be allowed to pray at the Wall without fear of further detentions. That same week, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky sat with Women of the Wall to discuss his plan for new section that would be set aside for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel. I began to receive congratulations from around the world as if the struggle was over, but, as is often the case in politics, the devil is in the details.