Photo Credit:
Women’s Priestly Blessing / Courtesy

Here’s one we haven’t heard yet: this Passover on Khol Hamoed (the intermediary days), Sunday, April 24 at 8:45 AM, the Women of the Wall will be “praying for freedom” at the Western Wall, a large, public women’s prayer service which will include the Priestess Blessing, Birkat Kohanot — “by women, for women.”

According to a WOW Sunday press release, this will, indeed, be “the first-ever Birkat Kohanot in the women’s section of the Western Wall,” made especially meaningful because it is supported by the Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy Estate. Leonard Nimoy was the man who introduced the four-fingered priestly blessing to the world as the Vulcan “Live long and prosper” salute — which turns this into such a cultural fruit salad, with lady priests, Vulcans and the Kotel…

Leonard Nimoy demonstrating the Vulcan salute. / Wikipedia commons

For the past few decades, it has been a permanent, always breathtaking feature at the Kotel on one of the intermediary days of both Sukkot and Passover, when hundreds of Kohanim, descendants of Aharon the High Priest, gather with their backs to the Wall to bless the people of Israel:

“May God bless you and keep you. May God show you His kindness, may He have mercy on you. May God watch over you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26).

And now, thanks to a donation from the Nimoy estate, that startling event, too, will probably become a shouting match over this bang-up idea for a provocation:

“This service will parallel the tradition on major Jewish festivals where men who trace their lineage to the priestly class (kohanim) stand in front of the congregation and bless the people with hands raised and fingers spread, reminding everyone that blessings pass through people from the Divine Source,” WOW declares. “Women have never been invited to share in this blessing; it has been considered a ritual afforded only to men – even though this discrimination is not rooted in Jewish Law.”

Yes, you’re welcome to read that last segment one more time, it really says what you thought it did. We all remember the crowds of priestesses dancing and blessing the people of Jerusalem in biblical times, except they were worshipping the goddess Ashtoreth

Like the email says: “A women’s Priestly Blessing … is the perfect opportunity to offer women a unique, spiritual and empowering experience on the Jewish world’s stage: the Western Wall.”

Of course, the Hebrew text of the Priestly Blessing assigns to God strictly male pronouns. Will the lady priestesses take this lying down or will they come up with a politically correct, gender-equal version? Stay tuned, we’ll keep you posted.


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