In the Middle Ages the synagogue – both house of God and social meeting place -was the center of Jewish life. Here men and women said their prayers -but in different areas. The women were only able to participate in the service by way of small holes in the walls that surrounded the Weibershul, the women’s school.
Historically, Jewish women were restricted in their participation in religious services. A new paradigm of synagogue ritual has emerged from including women in limited roles to full gender-equal participation. Women speak of their awakening to the power of prayer and to their deepest longings to serve their community as emissaries and conduits of prayer.
There is no distinction in what a woman or a man can do during services. These women speak of their awakening to the power of prayer and to their deepest longings to serve their community as “shlichey tsibur” (communal emissaries) and conduits of prayer. They describe their connection to divine inspiration, the ancient traditions and their heritage as empowering, inclusive and liberating.
These photos capture this sense of enormous pride and great joy in their accomplishments and their love of Jewish ritual practice.