It is with great pride that I announce to you that today, my step-dad was detained by the police for “disturbing the peace” at the Western Wall, when he participated in smuggling a Torah scroll to the Women of the Wall. This is a source of pride because it was for a noble purpose that he was standing in the way of a violent man who charged forward and knocked him to the ground, giving him a minor concussion.
Clearly the people who charged him with such a crime have a different idea of peace than I do. Their idea seems to include a status quo in which a minority group is prevented from practicing their religion in a democratic country. Somehow my idea of peace failed to recognize that kind of situation. As a consequence, my interpretation of “disturbing the peace” includes fighting for your religious freedom.
You might be wondering, what was my step-dad doing getting in a fight that was related to the Women of the Wall? Why should an affair relating to the Women of the Wall concern him in the first place?
Here is what the group that call themselves “The Men of the Women of the Wall” have to say on this topic:
It’s our fight too.
To an outsider it is easy to conclude that the Women of the Wall are all about feminism, rebellion, or even provocation, attention-seeking, and publicity. After all, the whole thing seems to be about what women are allowed to do at the Western Wall. That’s not how the men see it. Rightfully so, they view this battle as a battle for religious freedom. The protest of the Women of the Wall is an attempt to make the holy site a place where all types of religious practices are accepted. This is one of our most basic rights as citizens of a democratic state – and yet here is a striking example of its violation, and in Israel, of all places.
The point here being, a fight for religious freedom, even if it is initiated by women, affects men as well. The outcome of this fight affects them. It’s very nice that men have full religious freedom at the Wall, but just because they do now, doesn’t mean they will forever, certainly if there is another group that is openly denied their rights.
Thankfully, there are so many strong female leaders fighting for women’s rights all over the world. But what would the fight for women’s rights be if only women cared about their rights?
I apologize for being cliché, but I can not resist pasting my favorite TED talk here. Jackson Katz on the importance of male leadership and its role in combating gender violence:
To be even more cliché, I’m now going to bring quotes said by…my family members.
My stepdad said about this,
As in the case of any minority group, if the only one concerned with their rights is them, it will never affect change.
And my mom,
The blacks did not get civil rights in the United States until white people marched.
And how proud I am to be their daughter today.