Nava Meiersdorf Brenshtin grew up at once familiar with Orthodox Judaism and puzzled by the hostility she sometimes encountered.

"Why don’t the Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) like it that I am walking in their neighborhood? Why, from their perspective, am I a stranger?... in my heart I hoped that one day they would not see me as different."

It was not to be. Nava went to the Kotel in support of Women of the Wall on Rosh Hodesh, and was terrified as Haredi women surrounded and harassed her. Yet they did not deter her or alter her devotion to prayer, and to Masorti Judaism and its values.

"...I reached the Amidah prayer, I closed my eyes and finally prayed. Suddenly I felt wet and dry objects being thrown at me... I saw an angry crowd coming towards me and the police acting as a human shield protecting me. I had always admired the Haredi world’s uncompromised morality. What had happened to them today....Suddenly, I am scared of the people whom I had admired."

Nava continues : " I have chosen the egalitarian Jewish world because I want more. I want to take upon myself more responsibilities. I want to draw closer. I see how much I have progressed as a woman and how much more we have to go...

I pray that I will be in a place where, with respect and love for God and humankind, men and women can fulfill both the commandments relating to God and those concerning our fellow human beings.


Nava Meiersdorf Brenshtin studies at the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary and is a founder of the egalitarian Masorti synagogue in the Ein Karem neighborhood of Jerusalem .