The Very First Woman of the Wall / Journeys Podcast

Bonna Devora Haberman, a scholar, writer, and playwright, shares the story of the birth of the Women of the Wall with host Rogel Alpher.

In December 1988, Bonna Devora Haberman, an Olah from Canada living in Israel, attended an international conference of female Jewish leaders. There, one of the participants initiated a group prayer at the Western Wall that was going to be attended by women from all different streams of Judaism, and would be the first autonomous group prayer to take place at the women’s section of the Wall in Jewish history. 

When the administrator of the Wall, Rabbi Yehuda Getz, was asked for his opinion about the occasion, he said that although it did not offend Jewish law, it would not be accepted by the community of Israel.

That evening, moved by the spiritual occasion she had experienced, Haberman decided that she would convene a group prayer at the Wall every month until it was accepted in Israeli society, because, as she says, “The Torah belongs to women as much as to men.” Thus, the Women of the Wall movement was born.

The rest of the story is a complicated tale that involves violence, politics, and the Supreme Court. Haberman, a scholar, writer, and playwright, shares the story with host Rogel Alpher.