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Thursday, December 27, 2012 

Ultra-Orthodox women step up, voice their displeasure of Shas and UTJ

The two Haredi political parties recently were the subject of a petition in court protesting their exclusion of women from their Knesset movement. The court may have dismissed the petition, but there are some women in the Haredi community who aren't happy with how they're running things, and they have every right to be mad at them:
The Shas and United Torah Judaism parties may have joined forces over the petition filed against them over the exclusion of women in their Knesset lists, but not everyone in the ultra-Orthodox public shares the opinion that Jewish religious laws ban women from serving as parliament members.

A group of haredi women believe a woman is allowed to "come out of the kitchen" and that the halachic excuse used by the parties is "misleading the public." [...]

On a Facebook page titled "Not elected – not voting", the group of women commented on the haredi parties' response to the petition filed with the Central Election Committee, arguing that "there is no halachic prohibition against a woman serving as a Knesset member."

According to the women, "People don’t know it, and the parties and their leaders are clearly interested in hiding it," but "women today have access to Jewish holy and literary sources" and can confront Halachic arguments.

"The parties say that it is inappropriate for a woman to be elected to Knesset for modesty reasons," the women wrote. "So we ask, is it appropriate for a woman to work as a lawyer? Is it appropriate for her to run a school, to be a journalist, editor, advertiser, CEO?

"All these are positions which require the women to come out of their kitchen, be in touch with the public, provide service, talk, express themselves."

Paternalistic social structure

The women mentioned Deborah the prophetess, who was a judge, a leader and a commander, ruling that "her case is a precedent allowing women to serve in a public role – especially when appointed by the public."
Bingo! This is one of the most important points in biblical history that helps make the case for women to serve in prominent political roles. Rabbi Chaim Amsalem's party also offered their support:
The Am Shalem party issued the following statement in response: "We support women's right to vote and be elected for Knesset. Many years ago, Chief Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel ruled, against the opinion of many rabbis, that women have the right to vote and to be elected.

"In the Hebrew year 5757, Rabbi Chaim Amsellem issued a halachic ruling stating that women are as worthy and talented as men, and sometimes even more. Women are in all managerial, social and economic junctions, and there is no reason for them not to be elected."

The party even has three women on the top 10 slots of its Knesset list.
I think the Am Shalem is the party the Haredi women wanting to achieve equal status should vote for, and for all we know, they just might.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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