Sunday, August 06, 2006

Women's Voices

In the robust Jewish community where I live, there have been two Tehillim rallies and one Rally for Israel since the start of this war. The second Tehillim rally was the only one of these events that I was able to attend.

The crowd was about 1000 strong. From my comfortable seat in the women’s section, it looked like the men were packed together tightly. Each chapter of Tehillim was read by the leader, verse by verse, and then repeated by the crowd. Occasionally, the voice of the leader would crack.

My feelings are raw lately. Very much reminiscent of how I spent last August, obsessively monitoring the news from Gush Katif and crying, crying, crying. So this was rally was an exact fit for my feelings. I raised my voice in prayer and I cried some more.

The deep voices of the men’s responsive reading engulfed me. Even though I was sitting in the midst of hundreds of women, with my eyes closed, I felt the power of the men’s combined voices viscerally.

And then I opened my eyes, looked around, and saw that virtually none of the women, other than me, was using her voice. Many were moving their lips in silent prayer and I don’t doubt for a moment that their kavannah was at least as potent as the men's.

But I was saddened by the thought that, as a community, we have so silenced our women that, when our voices are necessary to pray, to moan, to shout for Hashem’s compassion, we are, for the most part, mute.