Women in Israel Fight for Their Voice

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- rootuser

By Elana Sztokman

When asked at a JOFA panel about the status of women in Israel and what can be done to protect women’s basic rights, I replied that I would first make it illegal for a political party that has no women on its list to run for the Knesset. Thankfully, I’m not alone in this sentiment. In fact, a new movement is beginning to form of Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox women fighting against the exclusion of women from religious political parties.

Esti Shoshan, a haredi journalist, recently started a Facebook page called Lo nivharot, lo boharot, which means “If we can’t be elected, we are not voting.” As of this writing, the group has over 800 likes — perhaps not the stuff of a Steve Jobs fan page, but signs of movement nonetheless. And it comes at a particularly significant time in the development of religious politics. The legality of religious parties of Shas and United Torah Judaism is currently being debated by the Elections Council, under the leadership of Supreme Court justice Elyakim Rubinstein, based on a petition filed by a coalition of seven organizations led by Jerusalem city council member Laura Wharton contesting the systemic exclusion of women from party lists.

Why do Jewish Women Still Need to Demand Equality?

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- rootuser

By Sharon Shenhav

At the KnessetWe are well into the 21st Century and Jewish women are not only the majority of the Jewish people, they are highly educated, articulate and well organized. So why haven't they achieved equality

The international Council of Jewish Women, an umbrella organization with affiliates in 43 countries, held a demonstration at the Knesset on Sunday, entitled "Jewish Women Worldwide Demand Equality".

We Need A Security Dome In The Home

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- rootuser

By Dr. Ruti Feuchtwanger

“The sword without, and terror within” (Deut. 32:25)

On November 18, the fifth day of Operation "Pillar of Cloud”, the body of a fifty-year-old woman was found dead in her home in Ofakim. The police suspect that she was killed by her spouse. Many people have never heard of this story – even an internet search comes up with very few results, all with few details, (like this one and not a single news item in English.

It is hard not to compare the coverage of this death with the coverage of the deaths of three people in Kiryat Mal'achi – not far from Ofakim – a few days earlier. The three victims from Kiryat Mal'achi have names and faces, and the Ofakim victim remains anonymous; they were killed by the missile of a foreign enemy, and she was (allegedly) murdered by the stabs of a “loved one” in her home; their death got widespread coverage, while hers was barely mentioned in the margin of the news.

Rabbi Kalb On Women Of The Wall

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- rootuser

The following is a text version of a speech delivered by Rabbi David Kalb at a Solidarity Minyan (Prayer Service) in Support of Women of the Wall at Town and Village Synagogue on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, Tuesday, March 13 2013. Some minor changes were made from the original.

Shalom and Chodesh Tov (Have A Good Month). I am an Orthodox Rabbi and I believe that every Jew should have the right to pray at the Kotel, the Western Wall in his or her own way. I might not personally agree with the way every individual or community approaches Tefilah, Prayer. I might even disagree on Halachic, Jewish legal grounds. However, the fact that I might disagree, or that anyone else might disagree, does not take away from their right to pray at the Kotel.

This is a civil rights issue, this is a civil liberties issue and it is an issue of separation between religion and government, but it is also a spiritual issue. Sefer Bereshit (The Book of Genesis) Chapter 1, Line 27, teaches that all human beings are created Bselem Elokim, in the Image of God.

My Rebbe (My Rabbi, My Teacher) Rav (Rabbi) Yitz Greenberg teaches the following. The literal meaning of the phrase Bselem Elokim is that human beings are pictures of God. How can this be? We know that Judaism forbids pictures of God. No matter how different any of our Synagogues may be, not one of them has a picture of God on its wall. Let me pose a few questions. The most common picture in the world of George Washington, what is it worth? $1. The most common picture in the world of Abraham Lincoln, what is it worth? $5. The most common picture in the world of Alexander Hamilton, what is it worth? $10. Now, here is the tough question. What is a picture of God worth? Priceless or infinite value, and who are the pictures of God? We are: human beings.

Modesty: Whose Responsibility?

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- rootuser

By Batya Ungar-Sargon

Batya Ungar-Sargon“No one has a right to tell a woman what to wear, least of all a man who thinks his fear of women's sexuality gives him some kind of divine right to control.” This was said to me in a recent interview with Chana Cohen, 30, a freelancer in Queens, NY who recently stopped observing the Orthodox Jewish laws of modesty or tzniut.

Orthodox Judaism places certain restrictions on what women are permitted to wear, though the status of these restrictions is contested: are they halachah (law) or minhag (custom)? It’s hard to say. While the concept of erva or “sexual incitement” comes up in the Talmud, it rarely names explicit body parts that one must cover or hide. One of the few named is the thigh: “A woman’s leg is a sexual incitement,” the Talmud says in Berachot 24a, “Uncover the leg, pass through the river. Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen.” The latter is a quote from Isaiah, as though the Talmudists needed a verse describing God’s anger at the people of Israel to inform them under what circumstances to be aroused. While the Talmudists then attempt to compare a pinky finger to Makom Hatoref (literally, the place of filth or pudenda, but idiomatically, the place that devours, an excellent pun), they are quickly shut down. 

Assessing Problems of Women’s Status in Israel

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- rootuser

Israel Panel

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen 

Nearly every month, it seems, there is troubling news relating to the status of women in Israel. Late last year it was women forced to sit at the back of public buses, and then Haredim attacking schoolgirls in Beit Shemesh for being insufficiently modest. In October the leader of Women of the Wall was arrested and allegedly mistreated by police for leading others in prayer at the Kotel. And recently, according to the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, Knesset candidate Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan declared that the agunah issue is caused by women’s groups trying to besmirch the rabbinical courts, rather than by husbands who refuse to divorce their estranged wives.

Israeli Women, Jewish Women and the Challenges of Multiple Identities

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:05pm -- rootuser

BJ Israel PanelOver 100 people gathered in the community room at B’nai Jeshuran synagogue on New York’s Upper West Side on Sunday, March 10th for a unique program marking International Women’s Day.  The program was part of a month-long observance of Women’s History Month that the AZM and WZO jointly mark as “FeminIsrael.  Each year FeminIsrael explores the challenges facing Israeli women and celebrates their accomplishments and the accomplishments of women worldwide.

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