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March 10, 1989 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-03-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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32

FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 1989

THE JEWS OF NORTHERN IRELAND:

Living in Peace BY MARK UHERMAN
In a Troubled Land

BELFAST—Strolling to shut on a
fine fall morning, 1 almost forget
that this is a land in anguish. Half
an hour outside the barricaded
center of the city. !ascend the flank
of fog-shrouded, eternally-green
Cave Hill. Along the Antrim Road.
the neighborhood begins to resem-
ble an upper middle-cl.s enclave
anywhere in America.
But as I turn into the tree-
li ned street where the Belfast
Hebrew Congregation is located, 1
am reminded just where I am and
just what sort of place this.is.
A five-man British Army
patrol in camouflage battle dress —
laser-sighted rifles at the ready —
stands blocking the sidewalk.
- Morning. sir," says a burly
corporal. "Where are you corning
from:-
There is a maxim in Belfast.,
- Whatever you say. say nothing. -
With this in mind. I reply briefly,
explaining that l am coming from
my hotel.
"Where are you bound for?"
I tell him — the synagogue.

I offer my pre. card. After a
cursory glance, he hands it back.

Mark Lieberman has cocrred etwlts
Norther,: Ireland gnu. 1985.

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Ms. Writer's Prayer
Is End Of Mechitzah

ARTHUR J. MAGIDA

Special to The Jewish News

W

hen shown the
Western Wall in
Jerusalem, Ann F.
Lewis, a national affairs cor-
respondent for Ms. magazine,
was told by her guide, "Many
people write their wishes and
stick them in the Wall."
"If I write a wish," Lewis
responded, "it would be that
the mehitzah [the partition
that separates men and
women at prayer] fall down."
Lewis saw the Wall while in
Jerusalem late last
November . and
early
while
hile attending
the First International
Jewish Feminist Conference.
Writing in Ms., Lewis tells of
women from the conference
reading the Torah at the Wall,
while a man shouted over the
mehitzah, "I forbid it. I forbid
it." And as "an anguished
woman circled the group [of
feminists] crying, "The Torah
is not for women."
The 300 women from 21
countries at the conference
"felt the dangerous presence
of religious fundamentalism
— an enemy to women's lives
around the world, whether
dressed in the robes of the
ayatollah or the caftan of an
ultra-Orthodox rabbi."
Regardless of their theology

or their geopolitics, wrote
Lewis, two common threads
link religious fundamen-
talists: the "exact and detail-
ed knowledge of what God
wants, usually derived from
literal reading of a sacred
text; and second, their deter-
mination to control — and
restrict — women's lives. Star-
ting with their own women,
and I do mean they think
they own women."
Noting the Middle East's
"warring theologies and fac-
tional disputes," Lewis wrote,
"What a shame these
religious leaders [of the
region] can't agree on ter-
ritorial boundaries as
naturally as they draw the
lines around women's lives"
In a companion piece about
the conference, Letty Cottin
Pogrebin, a founder of Ms.,
recalled that she had
wondered who would attend
the four-day meeting: "Cer-
tainly, no woman active on
Jewish life anywhere on
earth needed another con-
ference."
Pogrebin discovered that
the women had come for the
same reason she had: "To find
others who identify for-
thrightly both as Jews and as
women within the context of
our countries and cultures .. .
And who understand that .. .
bigotry and oppression come

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