“Can I just say, to the Bernie or Bust people: You’re being ridiculous.” Those lines got comedian Sarah Silverman international attention on Monday night when she addressed the Democratic National Convention.
Sarah certainly left an impression during her time on the convention stage but I learned something about her this week from a colleague that impressed me more. Sarah has championed a campaign to make the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem a more welcoming place for women. When I was in Israel in 2010 I was truly upset that women had to wait in line so much longer than men to pray at the Wailing Wall because the female section of the wall was only a fraction of the size of the men’s section. I wrote about this inequality in my newspaper column and blogged about it.
Apparently having less room to pray hasn’t been the only issue at the Wailing Wall for women. For several years Sarah and her sister Susan, who is a rabbi, headlined a movement called Women of the Wall that called for legal changes to allow women to wear prayer shawls at the historic wall and sing, pray and read Scripture out loud there just as men can. In 2013 Sarah’s sister and niece were arrested when they defied the law and donned prayer shawls at the wall. In December of 2014 Sarah and Susan lit a menorah on the women’s side of the wall even after the rabbi in charge of the wall had forbidden them to do so.
Sarah and the Women of the Wall’s protests worked! In January of this year the Israeli government announced that a mixed gender prayer area at the wall would be created and women would be allowed to pray, read Scripture, sing,wear prayer shawls and light menorahs at the wall.
Sarah Silverman was a Bernie Sanders supporter in the Democratic primaries but in an article in the New York Times she is quoted as saying…..”I will vote for Hillary with gusto, as I continue to be inspired and moved to action by the ideals set forth by Bernie.”
Hillary Clinton is lucky to have a fighter with a sense of humour like Sarah Silverman on her side. Sarah has a proven track record of fighting for important changes that give equal rights to women.
I wasn’t sure I needed to visit Israel a second time but it might be worth it just to pray again at the Wailing Wall since it is now a place where men and women are regarded as equals as they always have been in the eyes of God. Thanks Sarah!