Women of the Wall
The Women of the Wall organization and famed Israeli photographer David Rubinger teamed up this week for an unusual endeavor – recreating the iconic image of three Israeli paratroopers at Western Wall in the Six Day War, in their image.
The Women of the Wall is a group of Jewish women from around the world, who strive to cement the right for women to pray and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Side by side (Photos courtesy of David Rubinger)
Today, while woman are allowed to pray at a special, separated, section of the holy site, they are barred from doing so aloud, or while adorning any of the Jewish religion's prayer symbols.
The unique project, titled "Liberating the Wall 2012" is meant to be sent to the group's donors and supporters worldwide.
When WOW Chairwoman Anat Hoffman called Rubinger to obtain his permission to replicate the image, and explained her organization's cause, she was in for she called "The surprise of a lifetime."
"I explained that WOW was trying to break the religious monopoly radical religious elements have on the Western Wall and he said 'For me, you are the true liberators.'"
To Hoffman's delight, not only did the 86-year-old Israel Prize laureate agree to let the group recreate the iconic image – he offered to take the picture himself.
"We were beside ourselves with joy," she said. "We never dreamed of this."
Rubinger in action
In 1997, Rubinger was awarded the Israel Prize in Photography, becoming the first photographer to receive the award.
Rubinger explained that he simply supports the cause: "If you look at the photos I took back then – men and women were at the Wall together. Today they (radical religious elements) have kicked women out. They probably wouldn't consider King David Jewish enough.
"As far as I'm concerned, that solider, holding his helmet, is far more sacred than any of those extremists."
Hoffman added that her organization, and many other women's rights groups feel that there is a constant battle against extremists trying to exclude women from the public sphere.