web analytics
December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Will the Real Haredi Feminists Please Stand Up?

Ruth Colian is running as a Haredi woman for political office.

Ruth Colian

Ruth Colian

In Israel, a Haredi woman named Ruth Colian is asking that the Israeli government stop funding Haredi political parties because they discriminate against women. The Haredi parties will not place a woman on their ballots, yet they are receiving money from the government. Colian argues that the government is sponsoring gender discrimination by supporting the patriarchal system of Haredi Judaism in politics.

It’s a good argument and I hope she wins. But that’s not the issue here.

The real issue is that Colian is running as a Haredi woman for political office. She won’t run on a secular list because she says she is Haredi. She wants to break the glass ceiling in the Haredi community. I wish her luck because it won’t be easy. In the past, people who tried to change Haredi norms were either pushed out or left on their own accord. It’s an uncomfortable place to be a revolutionary but maybe Colian will be the one.

If she is successful, it will mean yet another avenue that Haredi women can achieve the same level of acclaim and success as men. Leaving the rabbinate as one of the few places Haredi women cannot. That might prove to be a difficult position to maintain.

Corian is a true Haredi feminist. She is Haredi and she is vying for equal opportunities for women. This is the basic premise of feminism. It comes in many flavors and textures, but at the heart of all of these feminist movements is a sense that men and women should have equal opportunities and that men should not dictate the role that women must play in society. One can see how feminism and Haredi life seem incompatible. While it’s true that many, if not most, Haredi women choose to play the dignified and refined role of mother, wife, and homemaker on the sidelines of religious and communal life, there are many women who would prefer to have a choice to play a more public role in religious and communal life. That is what the Haredi feminists want.

When juxtaposed with a trailer for an upcoming documentary on the hasidic community of Brooklyn called Uniforms: The Hasidic #Community, Corian’s struggle seems even more poignant. The documentary was produced by a self proclaimed non-traditional Jewish woman. She offers a peek into the softer, more spiritual side of Hasidic Judaism. It’s a noble attempt to show good people living good lives. The public has a negative perception of Hasidic Judaism and this documentary could go a long way to bridging that divide.

Leaving aside the extremely problematic conflation of different hasidic groups in the movie, illustrated by the visuals of chasidim in shtreimels and double head coverings for the women, while hip Chabad people talk about their more liberal way of life, there was a line in the trailer that requires attention.

A woman, who almost certainly is Chabad as betrayed by her perfectly unaccented English, proclaims: “Jewish [sic] women, we’re kind of the biggest feminist women out there. Judaism creates space for women to tap into what might not be popular right now, but what is innate, the creative power of bearing children.”

I think that if a woman wants to “tap into what might not be popular right now, but what is innate, the creative power of bearing children” she should have that opportunity. I am all for traditional values for women that want those values in their lives. It’s great. It’s one of the secrets to Orthodox Judaism. In fact, I think it’s a problem that so many husbands and fathers are studying all day while their wives are leaving the home to support their husbands and babies are being dropped off at day care. I believe the traditional home is a great ideal and bearing children is a wonderful and powerful role to play in this world.

However, it is decidedly not feminist. It can be feminist to choose that life. But if everyone is doing it, or is expected to do it, it does not fit any accepted meaning of the word. You can’t unilaterally change the entire meaning of the word feminist and apply it to Haredi Judaism. It doesn’t pass the laugh test, forget the smell test.

About the Author: Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, J.D. is the rabbi at the famous Pacific Jewish Center | The Shul on the Beach in Venice CA. He blogs at finkorswim.com. Connect with Rabbi Fink on Facebook and Twitter.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Will the Real Haredi Feminists Please Stand Up?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israel Lebanon Peace Project Flag
UN Demands Israel Pay Lebanon $850 Million
Latest Blogs Stories
Alan Gross (L)

Did Cuba apologize for their spies the way Israel apologized for Pollard?

Torah scroll. (illustrative only)

Nothing binds Jews together more than Torah observance; Or so one would think.

tinsel-314750_1280

Sukkah tinsel decorations enjoy a robust market but are invariably manufactured for “another”holiday

PM Benjamin Netanyahu with Yishai and Tamar Fogel, survivors of an Arab terror attack which killed their parents and 3 siblings.

A number of Israeli papers regurgitated a biased AP article on settlement growth, but they should have read it more carefully before hitting publish.

Many of the battles of the Maccabees were right here in the Shiloh area.

Both Labor and Likud are expected to get more seats in the upcoming elections.

Get a straight answer from Edward de Bono to the question: What is lateral thinking?

Jewish communities worldwide commemorate Yehudit during Chanukah by eating dairy foods in her honor

Israel’s problem isn’t Indyk, Obama, UN, NGOs or even the media; Our problem is much closer to home.

None of the attacks on Jewish & property should come as a surprise in light of the Temple Mount.

No surprise! Israel is now being blamed for Ziad Abu Ein’s death.

How does the new U.S. tax amnesty affect American citizens living in Israel and abroad?

The party chiefs are acting drunk and childish – making stupid mistakes and inadvertently showing their true selves – just like on Purim.

A day dedicated to Torah&tradition; a day of great joy and of great sadness- a brit and a burial.

Who was this Minister of Rage, Ziad abu Ein, and what did he do to qualify for his position as a senior minister in the PA?

JoeSettler explains the electoral mess we’re in, and a possible solution for fixing it.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Fink
QuestionsandAnswers-logo

People act not because they think it’s right; they do what they do because it’s what they want to do

Dusk in the early morning hours seen from Mt Meron, Northern Israel. March 26, 2014.

What do we do when we want to be mad at God but we also want God to make it all better? Indeed, what do we do?

Rambam would also allow charity from a mumar as long as the person maintains basic belief in God and Judaism.

There is no song that tells the story of freedom like Shir HaShirim.

It is unfair to judge a 52 year old man with the glasses of a person who lives in a different world.

Adegbile was not making a moral statement by representing a man convicted of killing a cop.

Women learning Torah is becoming increasingly permissive, but women wearing tefillin is becoming increasingly stringent.

When the “offensive” statements in our Talmud were stated, no one thought they were offensive.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/fink-or-swim/will-the-real-haredi-feminists-please-stand-up/2013/10/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: