web analytics
July 28, 2014 / 1 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



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
The United Nations Security Council
UN Security Council Demands Gaza Cease Fire
Latest Blogs Stories
soldiers praying

If Hamas would simply stop firing rockets into Israel, all the carnage would stop instantly.

Doug Goldstein, CFP

Doug’s interview with engineer and personal finance blogger Len Penzo.

PM Netanyahu, DM Ya'alon, IDF

In Islam, there is no such thing as peace with accursed dhimmis as the Muslims refer to us infidels.

A reader claimed the Disengagement from Gaza was good, because it reduced the number of murdered Israelis. Examining the numbers tells a different story…

JoeSettler points out that most Gazans want to leave, and most Jews want to go back home to Gush Katif. How about a solution that actually resolves the conflict?

These are the photos of our soldiers (and a citizen) killed in action during the current IDF ground operation in Gaza.

Jameel went on a pizza run down south, and translated a letter from a soldier on the border, along with some of his own personal observations…

Rabbi Kahane spoke of transfer, because it was what the Torah spoke of.

Her message to her soldier son on the battlefield: “Complete the Mission! Sayyem et HaMissimah!”

JoeSettler contemplated some new El Al slogans like: “El Al – Our pilots are trained in evasive maneuvers”…. Let’s hear your new El Al Slogans…

IDF volunteers come to Israel just to serve are the true idealists; Sean Carmeli was one of them.

And he whispers one last time, I love you mother.

It’s absurd, in this war places like Ariel and Shiloh are among the safest in the State of Israel.

Why aren’t American Jews coming s to Israel for the summer; Are they scared because of the war?

Ruthie Blum reveals just how hard it is for a Jewish mother to be a patriot at the time of war. Maternal cognitive dissonance On Thursday night, after 10 days of aerial warfare between Hamas terrorists and Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a ground incursion into Gaza. It was a move that much of […]

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Fink
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?

Are donations from immoral people acceptable?

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.

Both communities value using books to study their texts, and digital devices are a less preferable way for younger people to study.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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: