what I did on my summer vacation

by Leah Bieler

Sometimes as a religious feminist I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. I am clearly hated by the religious establishment in Israel, and I've become accustomed to it. But when secular Israelis have no love for me either...I'm left wondering what else I can do but laugh. In today's Forward I tell a little story where my mouth may have gotten the best of me, but I'll blame that on my father. Heredity is a bitch. 


This is not a story about Women of the Wall. That is a story for someone else to tell. So many women have been dedicated to that cause for so many years. I am just a sometimes joiner. A tourist, if you will.

But my daughters really wanted to go. So, despite my dislike of crowds, and of getting up bright and early in order to be spat at and called a Nazi, how could I say no?

When we arrived at the Western Wall gate, the coffee I had chugged at home only 15 minutes earlier had not yet fully kicked in. And so it took a moment to notice that the women’s security line was moving at a snail’s pace while the men — carrying full bags, backpacks, even guns — moved quickly through their lane.

Next to our metal detector, there was a man with a velvet kippah going through each woman’s bag with a fine-toothed comb. He removed books and paged through them, and I couldn’t for the life of me imagine what exactly he was looking for.

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