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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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Uproar over Jewish Candidate’s Refusal to Shake Hands with Women

When a Muslim won’t look at a woman, it is called respect. When a Jew won’t shake her hand, it is called sexism.
Shneur Odze is running for the EU Parliament but has offended some men because he won't shakes hands with women.

Shneur Odze is running for the EU Parliament but has offended some men because he won't shakes hands with women.

An Orthodox Jewish candidate for the European Parliament has caused an uproar in Britain by refusing to shake women’s hands.

Shneur Odze told the members of the right-wing populist UK Independence Party, or UKIP, that he will not shake women’s hands due to his religious beliefs, which proscribe physical contact with any woman other than his wife. Some party activists told the Times of London that they are offended by Odze’s stance and say it will alienate half the electorate.

Senior party officials have called the activists “rude” and “wrong” for not respecting Odze’s beliefs.

Ozde, 31, is fourth on the UKIP’s candidate’s list for member of the European Parliament from the North West of England. The Europe-wide election to the parliament is scheduled for late May.

A party regional organizer, Fred McGlade, resigned from his position with the party to protest the decision to include Odze on the list. He warned Crowther that he would stand down if Odze was chosen by the party because of his attitude towards women

That is how an ignorant person, Jewish or not, judges an Orthodox Jew. He assumes that a Jew thinks women are second-class citizens since a religious man won’t shake her hand. Jews, especially those whose understanding of Jewish law is not even on the level, so to speak, of Reform Judaism, often think the same of Orthodox Jews for not praying together with women.

The nose-in-the-air Jews like to think that when a Jewish man thanks God that he was not created a woman, the man couldn’t possibly be thinking of all the mitzvahs he would not be able to perform if he were a women. He obviously is a sexist who considers women to be the scum of the earth.

If that is the way the snobs look at others, perhaps it is they are sexist for even thinking like that.

Perhaps they are the sexists for not having marital relations according to Jewish law, which protects the woman from lust. Consult your synagogue’s Code of Jewish Law for details.

Perhaps it is the better-than-thou men, and women, who seem to think that “equality” means “sameness.” God must have made a mistake by not allowing men to give birth. On the other hand, as most wives know, if men were to give birth, the world would have ended after the first birth because he wouldn’t go through the pains of labor a second time around.

And it’s the same crowd of people who, when visiting a mosque, are the first to wear proper dress and take off their shoes, but wouldn’t dare cover their shorts in order to respect the customs of Haredi orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem.

If Ozde does get elected, it certainly won’t be with vote of those who encourage the Women of the Wall to practice secular coercion on the majority Orthodox Jewish population at the Wall.

But there are some, hopefully a majority, in Britain who are not so ignorant. UKIP chairman Steve Crowther told the London newspaper, “We have a policy of tolerance for and acceptance of people’s own religious observance. We do not consider it grounds for complaint. It harms no one.”

In a tweet on Monday, Ozde said, “Thanks for all the supportive emails, calls, texts, its been rather heartwarming Recon it’s had the reverse effect?”

A supporter also tweeted, referring to former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks: “Pretty standard among very Orthodox Jews. The Chief Rabbi didn’t shake Queen’s hand when he became a Lord.”

The Queen seems to have gotten over it.

JTA contributed to this report.

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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15 Responses to “Uproar over Jewish Candidate’s Refusal to Shake Hands with Women”

  1. Aliza Wiseman says:

    Ignorance is often to blame for people taking such misplaced offense, making residual false judgments, and perpetually undermining truth, which, along with simple loving kindness, are the most essential ingredients for achieving peaceful coexistence. It begs of each of us the question, "would we rather be right or achieve peace?"

  2. Lazar Rozenblat says:

    Yasher Koach, Shneur!

  3. Get out of Europe. The drums are beating. Listen up.

  4. Kiddish Hashem nice to see a kosher Yid spreading the concept of morality and equality.

  5. Nick Davis says:

    think he is wrong , makes him look as bad as them

  6. Jaqui Murray says:

    then he is unsuitable for the role.

  7. Barry Graham says:

    I do the same and nobody objects, in fact they respect it. But then I live in America. Shneur I am proud of you. Lest anyone reading this thinks its sexist, the rule applies equally to women shaking men's hands.

  8. Kim Graham says:

    Would be nice if the Jewish Press posted a quote from Mr. Odze with the nice way he likely explained that he doesn't shake hands with women out of respect for them.

  9. As I understand the reasoning behind this particular principal. I see no reason to continue to observe once a woman is beyond child bearing. Although on the whole what applied 5,000 years ago is really irrelevant in the 21st Century. But really we can tolerate these little foibles. However, if I were a powerful leader I would expect due courtesy to be extended.

  10. Unfortunately there are intolerances on both sides. While the criticism is false for those who truly follow the precepts taught, there are still plenty of male Jews who act as though women are 2nd class. They still believe the teachings that women are airheads regardless of whether they can be successful CEO's of a company. I say live and let live so long as one does not impose their ways on others by requiring them to do something against their religious beliefs. I am reminded of when our Chaplains group used to get together for secular events such as a 9/11 Memorial. There were many women in the audience who used to want to shake the hand of the Chabad Rabbi for his eloquent words. I used to stand near him and when one of these women extended her hand, I would step forward and shake it while he thanked her. Respect for others and decorum have been severely eroded in the western world while bigotry grows. Our goal should be to combat bigotry and teach tolerance and respect NOT to gripe about how we all aren't identical in approach to the world!!!

  11. Weren't the curtsy and the bow developed to show respect and avoid physical contact? Plus, how do we know what nasty germs might be on the other person's hands? If you can't be respectful for religious differences, how about for valid health concerns? Just because your western culture has developed sometimes dangerous habits, it does not mean that everyone needs to follow them regardless of the risk it may put them in. If a person was a typhoid carrier, would you really want them to shake your hand?

  12. When I was young, it was considered very bad manners,in the UK, for a man to offer his hand to a woman first. A woman only shook hands if she wanted to. My brother (is now in his sixties) still feels uncomfortable at offering his hand first. I am not Jewish, but I really do not find it a problem if he does not wish to shake hands with a woman. I think a small minority is trying to stir up something – however, I think they will find that the British public quite frankly believe it is his own business.

  13. We are human beings, created by ONE CREATOR!

  14. IG-NO-RANCE RUNS DEEP IN MANY PEOPLE

  15. Mir Ben says:

    I am a woman and have shaken hands only a handful of times, usually off guard. I don't hug or do the cheek kiss either. This goes for women or men. Alot of women in my circles are taken back by this because they are unaware of issues regarding a spiritual contamination that can occur at the exchanging of body oils. Of course it is a belief — but to be respected and just as a curtsy and bow should be an acceptable sign of respect, as with a Japanese person, for example so should Mr. Odze's decision to run on his platform, not on social politics and hypocrisy.

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