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Sarah Silverman attends Western Wall Hanukkah menorah lighting in support of womenR …

A photo of five women, including Sarah Silverman, holding a lit menorah at the Western Wall.
More than 100 women, including comedian Sarah Silverman, second from right, participated in the first-ever Hanukkah candle lighting in the women's section of the Western Wall.

More than 100 women, including comedian Sarah Silverman, second from right, participated in the first-ever Hanukkah candle lighting in the women’s section of the Western Wall. RNS photo courtesy Women of the Wall.

JERUSALEM (RNS) Comedian Sarah Silverman made a rare appearance in the middle of a hot political dispute Thursday (Dec. 18) when she attended a Hanukkah menorah lighting alongside a group of Jewish feminists at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site.

It was the first time women have lit the menorah at the site and it came after the rabbi in charge of the Western Wall refused a request from Women of the Wall to station a Hanukkah menorah in the women’s section.

For decades, the site’s sole menorah has been lit on the men’s side of the wall, a fact that has angered Israeli and American women’s rights activists.

Anat Hoffman, the leader of Women of the Wall, a prayer group that has advocated for greater equality at the site, said guards at the wall’s entrance initially refused to allow anyone with a menorah onto the plaza.

Later, the group called the police and was allowed to enter.

“We lit 28 menorahs placed on silver foil in the women’s section,” Hoffman said. “We sang and we danced around the menorahs. This was the very first time in the history of Israel that women have lit a menorah at the wall. It was very moving.”

Hoffman said Silverman, who is in Israel to attend the bar mitzvah of her nephew, the son of Women of the Wall activist Rabbi Susan Silverman, “joined us when I explained the absurdity of the rabbis’ position.”

“She’s such a public Jewish figure, a strong feminist who isn’t afraid to speak her mind,” said Shira Pruce, the group’s press liaison.

Women of the Wall is asking Jewish women around the world to take a photo of themselves lighting a Hanukkah menorah, upload it and send it to Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the wall’s administrator, “to show him that women light candles all over the world.”


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Michele Chabin


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  • First, let me congratulate the women of Faith who stood up against what many religions like to call Tradition. Mind you, tradition is a word used to keep power. The only umbrage I will take is equating feminism with the Faith, Jewish or any other.
    Throughout the millenia, women have suffered and died for their Faith, even today. Blessed Mary wasn’t a feminist; Mother Teresa wasn’t a feminist; the list of women who fought for their Faith is written in history with their blood, sweat, and tears.
    Are women negatively affected by their Faith? Yes.
    Do women deserve better treatment from their Faith? Yes.
    In lighting the menorah, this is the beginning of change by women of strong Faith, whether they want to be called feminists or not. Remember it was a woman who was the Mother of Jesus and the Wife of God.
    PS. Know that fact, use that fact, live that fact!
    Feliz Navidad. Philip

  • They should let women pray there if only to deprive Sarah Silverman of an issue so she can take her narcissistic road show somewhere else — like Mars, perhaps.