US Teens Win Contest to Pray With Women of the Wall

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

Members of Women of the Wall perform their monthly Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Western Wall, on December 4, 2013. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Members of Women of the Wall perform their monthly Rosh Hodesh prayers at the Western Wall, on December 4, 2013. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

There will be three new faces among the members and supporters ofWomen of the Wall as they celebrate the new Hebrew month, Rosh Hodesh Shevat, at the Western Wall on January 2. Lucy Sattler, Alexandra Schwartz and Eliza Moss-Horwitz are winners of a contest for Jewish teens sponsored by Moving Traditions, a Philadelphia-based organization advocating for a more expansive view of gender in Jewish learning and practice.

The contest, called “One Moon, One Wall, One People,” was launched last May. It challenged the 4,000 members of Moving Traditions’ Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing! andShevet Achim: The Brotherhood groups all over North America to speak out creatively in support of Women of the Wall. In the first stage of the competition, the teens had to come up with a clever tweeted slogan supporting the organization and its mission.

Twenty finalists chosen from among 151 tweeters were asked to tape one-minute videos of themselves making the case for why the Western Wall should be a place where all Jewish men and women – Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, or Independent – should be allowed to pray in full freedom.

Sattler, Schwartz and Moss-Horwitz’s messages were outstanding, winning the teens free trips to Israel for them and one of their parents. In addition to joining Women of the Wall for the Rosh Hodesh service, they will also meet with chairwoman Anat Hoffman and the rest the group’s leadership at a lunch afterwards.

“Many of us have celebrated Rosh Hodesh with Women of the Wall, or have tracked their struggle over the years, and it has made us enraged, saddened, and hopeful,” Moving Traditions executive director Deborah Meyer tells The Times of Israel.

“I was talking to one of our board members, and we cooked up this campaign to bring the issue to the attention of the teens in our programs,” she says.

“It’s part of our agenda to expose kids to a whole spectrum of gender issues in religious and secular life, and also to give them a forum to connect with and contribute to Israel,” Meyer continues. “We are not afraid of turning kids off Israel by exposing them to the complexity of what life is really like there. You can love a country and still be concerned about what is happening in it.”

The Times of Israel caught up with the three winners either en route to Israel or shortly after they arrived, to learn a bit more about them and find out what winning the “One Moon, One Wall, One People” contest means to them.

 Click here to read about each of the girls and watch their winning videos.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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