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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘WOMEN’

Saudi Women Fined for Gross Traffic Crimes, Such as Driving (Video)

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Saudi traffic police had a field day in Riyadh on Saturday, fining at least 16 women who broke the tradition that prohibits women from taking the wheel.

The threat of $80 fines doused plans for a massive feminist turnout following a campaign of “women’s driving is a choice” that had gained support with more than 16,000 signatures.

The women who defied the ban posted videos on social media of their brazen act, and after being caught, they had to sign a pledge “to respect the Kingdom’s laws.” Police kept the women by their vehicles until a male guardian appeared to take the wheel, but some women were taken to the police station.

Given the traditional Muslim veil that women in Saudi Arabia usually wear in public, women drivers indeed could be a public danger. Who wants to ride with someone whose face is completely covered except for two slits for the eyes?

For the time being, it is the Saudi kingdom that has limited vision because it may only be a matter of time before it caves in and accepts the ugly Western influence of a female carrying out the masculine task of driving a car.

“Despite the strong opposition, the women believe that time is on their side,” The New York Times reported. “They point to the huge numbers of Saudis who study and travel abroad and return with new perspectives on their culture. They also suggest that the kingdom’s youthful population and the tremendous rise of social media will over time make the country more open to change.”

Saudi Arabia has the privilege of being the only country in the world where women are barred from driving, but the prohibition is a custom of the kingdom and not written in law.

The issue is not to be treated frivolously or with sarcasm. Saudi cleric Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan  in late September gave a very good reason why women should not drive.

“If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards,” he told the Senior Council of Scholars, one of the top religious bodies in the country.

“That is why we find those who regularly drive have children with clinical problems of varying degrees,” he said.

Who by the Sword, Who by Wild Beasts, Who by Hunger, Who by the Plague

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

In the supplemental prayer of The Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement, we say these words almost mechanically, theoretically, because this is the text. But in Syria this is reality. The regime’s war against the citizens’ demonstrations, which began two years and seven months ago, has become a dirty, despicable and accursed war, where everyone is fighting everyone else. People from both sides have lost the likeness of man, thrown human values to the winds, lost any semblance of humanity, and have become predatory animals, (“and who by a wild beast”).

Assad’s army has besieged the eastern neighborhoods of Damascus because they serve as a corridor of passage to the capitol for the jihadists who come from Jordan and Iraq. In these neighborhoods in recent weeks, tens of thousands of people have been besieged, cut off from all sources of life: food, water, electricity, and from Asad’s point of view they might as well all die from starvation. These were the neighborhoods that suffered the great attack of chemical weapons on the 21st of August in which approximately 1500 people were killed, men, women and children. As a result of the hunger, a group of Muslim religious arbiters issued a ruling that allows the residents of these neighborhoods to eat cats, dogs and donkeys, in order to survive the siege and the starvation.

There are reports about places like Mu’adhamiyat al-Sham where there have been many cases of death by starvation because of the siege imposed on these places, in addition to cases when injured people have died because they did not receive treatment in time. In addition, there are places where diseases like cholera are rampant, which are caused by spoiled food, contamination of water and the environment, and from pests such as mice, rats, and snakes that multiply alarmingly in ghost towns and ruins of cities like Homs, Hama and Idlib.

Approximately seven million Syrians are destitute refugees in neighboring countries and within Syria. The approaching winter threatens to pose great harm to their health and their lives, as if the misery that people – if it is possible to call them people – have caused them was not bad enough. Because of the distress and poverty, the refugees do anything they can in order to live: the men work for pennies, and many women are forced to do unethical things in order to earn a piece of bread. Families sell their daughters in forced marriages, to get a handful of dinars and reduce the number of mouths that they must feed.

Asad’s army systematically refuses humanitarian aid organizations to operate in the besieged cities, claiming concern that the lives of the volunteers will be endangered by fire from the opposition. But soldiers of the opposition to the regime are not guiltless either: they fight with each other over ideological differences, mainly regarding the future of Syria: will it be a civil state or an Islamic state. In the city of Aleppo “The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” is in control and the city is run by an Islamic court that imposes Islamic Shari’a by force of arm, whip and sword. Lately several tribes that live around Aleppo have announced that they have joined “The Islamic State” organization, in order to shelter in the shadow of the dominant force, and stay out of trouble.

The fact that children are present in the battle areas causes them severe emotional damage because of the terrible sights that they are exposed to. Children join the battle and take an active part in killing anyone who is thought to be an enemy. Asad’s militias, the “Shabiha”, are constantly on the lookout for the families of soldiers and officers who have deserted the army so that they can kill the men and abuse the women. In many cases they document and photograph this abuse to show it to those who are still serving, to discourage them from deserting.

This past month several dozens of jihad organizations operating in Syria came to the conclusion that the disagreements among them harm their fighting cause and strengthen Asad. This conclusion led dozens of organizations to put aside their differences and unify under an organizational umbrella by the name of “Jaysh al-Islam” – “The Army of Islam”. The other large organization – “The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” – is considering joining the “Army of Islam”, and it may be that “Jabhat al-Nusra”, which blessed the consolidation with “The Army of Islam”, will also join in the future.

FBI Arrests NY Rabbis for Beating Husbands Who Refuse Divorce

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The FBI raided a Monsey yeshiva Wednesday night and arrested four mean, including two rabbis, who allegedly kidnapped and beat recalcitrant husbands who had refused to grant their wives religious divorces and thereby prohibit them from re-marrying under Jewish law.

The “executors” used by the divorce gang included “electric cattle prods, karate, handcuffs and placed plastic bags over the heads of husbands,” the complaint charge stated.

The status of stranded Jewish women is known as “aguna” and is a problem that has received deserved focus in Israel and the Diaspora in recent years.

The FBI investigation and arrests bring to national attention the anguished situation of “aguna” women and perhaps will help put legal pressure on husbands who have separated from their wives but refuse to allow them to re-marry.

The suspects were arrested after a month-long sting operation in which a female FBI agent posed as an Orthodox woman trying to get a religious divorce from her husband. Another undercover agent posed as her brother.

Rabbis Mendel Epstein and Martin Wolmark, along with Ariel Potash and a fourth individual known as Yaakov, appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court in Trenton, N.J. Six others could be charged, according to reports.

The FBI also raided Yeshiva Sha’arei Torah in Monsey and a yeshiva in Lakewood, N.J., Brooklyn and elsewhere.

The rabbis allegedly charged $10,000 to persuade the rabbis on the rabbinical court to approve kidnapping husbands, and another up to $60,000 to pay for others to abduct and beat husbands.

The FBI agents called Rabbi Wolmark in August and said they were “desperate for a religious divorce and were willing to pay a large sum of money to obtain a divorce,” according to the charge sheet.

“There are a couple of ways to do that,” Wolmark allegedly said in a recorded phone conversation. “You have to, we have to, convene a special Bet Din and see if there are grounds to, to, to coerce him on the ‘get’ [divorce decree].”

Wolmark allegedly added, “You need to get him to New York where someone either can harass him or nail him. Plain and simple,” he said, according to the complaint. The rabbi then set up a meeting between the undercover agents and Rabbi Epstein. A recorded conversation revealed that Rabbi Epstein spoke about “kidnapping, beating and torturing husbands in order to force a divorce.’

He allegedly added, “Basically what we are going to be doing is kidnapping a guy for a couple of hours and beating him up and torturing him and then getting him to give the ‘get.’”

One of the “tough guys,” supposedly Rabbi Epstein’s son, “uses his karate skills” on the victims, court papers said.

The FBI said the “divorce gang” has been operating for 20 years and that Rabbi Epstein said he carries out approximately one kidnapping a year.

Forcing husbands to grant a divorce is permitted under Jewish law, a rabbi told The Jewish Press Thursday. “Jewish law does not always seem humane, but it really is humane because physical force often is the only way to force angry husbands to release their wives from virtual bondage and to allow them to-remarry,” he said.

The rabbi added that rabbis often are blamed for the situation of the agunot but also are criticized for using force, recognized under Jewish law, to solve their dilemma.

He pointed out that force can be used only if a Bet Din [religious court] authorizes it and only if there are substantial reasons to order a divorce.

Fertility Problems? Join the ‘Breakfast Club,’ Researchers Say

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

A new study by researchers at Tel Aviv and Hebrew universities reveals that eating a good breakfast can have a positive impact on women with problems of infertility.

In recent years, nutritional research has found that weight is affected not only by the level of calorie intake, but also by the question of when to consume large amounts of calories.

New research concludes that a big breakfast increases fertility among woman who suffer from menstrual irregularities, according to Prof. Oren Froy of Hebrew University and researchers from Tel Aviv University and Wolfson Medical Center.

The study examined whether meal times have an impact on the health of woman with menstrual irregularities due to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which affects approximately 6-10 percent of women of reproductive age, disrupting their reproductive abilities.

This syndrome creates a resistance to insulin, leading to an increase in male sex hormones (androgens), and can also cause menstrual irregularities, hair loss on the scalp though increase in body hair, acne, fertility problems and future diabetes.

The experiment was carried out at Wolfson Medical Center on 60 women over a 12-week period. The women, from the ages of 25 to 39, were thin with a BMI (body mass index) of less than 23 and suffered from PCOS.

The women were divided into two groups and were allowed to consume about 1,800 calories a day. The difference between the groups was the timing of their largest meal. One group consumed their largest meal, approximately 980 calories, at breakfast, while the other at dinner.

Researchers wanted to examine whether the schedule of calorie intake affects insulin resistance and the increase in androgens among woman suffering from PCOS. The women kept records of exactly what they ate.

The findings, recently published in the journal Clinical Science, showed improved results for the group that consumed a big breakfast.  Glucose levels and insulin resistance decreased by 8 percent, while the second group (“dinner”) showed no changes.

Another finding showed that among the “breakfast” group, testosterone (one of the androgens) levels decreased by nearly 50 percent, while the “dinner” group level stayed neutral. In addition, there was a much higher rate of ovulating woman within the “breakfast group” compared to the “dinner” group, showing that eating a hearty breakfast leads to an increase in the level of fertility among woman with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

“The research clearly demonstrates that indeed the amount of calories we consume daily is very important, but the timing as to when we consume them is even more important,” according to Prof. Froy.

Kotel Rabbi Gives Up and Tells Haredi Girls: Ignore Women’s Minyan

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz has requested that Haredi girls not fill the women’s section of the Kotel plaza the next time the Women of the Wall arrive to pray, perhaps on Friday.

“When Jews fight with each other at the Western Wall, there is no greater desecration of God’s name,” a statement from his office read.

A fragile compromise on multidenominational prayer has been taking shape through a committee convened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and headed by Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky.

“Therefore we should await the decision of the committee, so that we can create order that will return calm and brotherhood to the Western Wall,” according to the rabbi’s statement.

The WoW may arrive to the area on Friday, the first of the two days marking the new Hebrew month of Cheshvan, although they have been granted their own prayer area at Robinson’s Arch, at the southern end of the Western Wall but less popular among tourists and visitors than the section at the plaza.

WoW spokeswoman Shira Pruce told The Jewish Press Wednesday that the agreement to allow women to reads the Torch and pray at a minyan at a more remote area is a solution that smacks of “separate and unequal.” She said that the women are adopting a “wait and see” policy on whether to accept the compromise since the government has not yet built the promised facilities for the women.

Regardless of where they pray on Friday, they will be without a Torah scroll, which is read during the morning prayers on the new month, because their scroll has been damaged by mold. The Jewish Press reported here on Wednesday that the Women of the Wall blame the government for the damage because there are inadequate storage facilities at Robinson’s Arch.

Haredi girls have swarmed the women’s section of the Western Wall Plaza in recent months to make it almost impossible for the smaller WoW group to organize, let alone sing out loud.

Following raucous protests from the men’s section, whistles, catcalls and even chair-throwing, Rabbi Rabinowitz has concluded, although very belatedly, that a “provocation” could upset the “sensitive security situation at the Temple Mount, which is now at its zenith.”

The JTA contributed to this report.

Women of the Wall Blame Gov’t for Their Damaged Torah Scroll

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Women of the Wall now are blaming the government for inadequate storage for their Torah scroll that the group said sustained damaged due to dampness, making it unfit for reading.

Women will gather at the Robinson’s Arch at the Western Wall on Friday, the first of two days that mark the beginning of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, but they will pray without a Torah scroll.

After years of being banned by the police and the Western Wall rabbi from changing the status quo that preserves Orthodox Jewish tradition at the Western Wall (Kotel), authorities earlier this year finally arranged a compromise whereby the women can pray in their minyan and with a Torah scroll, but only at the Kotel’s southern section, known as Robinson’s Arch.

The women’s own Torah scroll is stored there, along with other scrolls that belong to the Conservative movement of Judaism, but it was lent out for use during the recent Jewish holidays and was found to be unfit to use because of mold.

“The Torah is being carefully cleaned and fixed by the leading authorities in Torah scroll repair and maintenance,” according to Women of the Wall spokeswoman Shira Pruce.

She placed the blame for the damage squarely on the government and Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz. His “discrimination against women’s prayers and the lack of an appropriate immediate government response in the matter has cause damage to a Torah scroll, an escalation from the previous blatant disrespect, shown by Rabinowitz and Haredi protesters, of Jewish ritual items, including siddurim, prayer shawls and tefillin,” she said.

After being told about the damage to their scroll, The Women of the Wakkl notififed the Conservartive Movement to schek their scrolls to see if they aslo has been damaged, Pruce told The Jewish Press Wednesday.

Pruce unintentionally made a comment that raises an interesting question about whose ox is being gored.

In her argument that women should be allowed to pray in the women’s section of the main Western Wall Plaza, on the women’s side of a separation barrier, Pruce noted that men are not allowed in the Women of the Wall minyan. One primary reason is that there are many Orthodox Jewish women in the movement and they abide by the tradition that the sexes should not mingle during prayer.

Isn’t that discrimination against men? How can the Women of the Wall rightfully complain that Haredim are discriminating against them by barring them from the  more popular part of the Western Wall, while they discriminate against men who might want to join their minyan?

Pruce  answers that there is a difference. She argues that the main plaza is a public place and not a “synagogue” and that it must be open to everyone, regardless of sex.

Granted that there really is no reason to forbid the women form praying as they wish at the main part of Western Wall, except for their being a nuisance to other women who object to the whole concept of a women’s minyan and Torah reading.

Granted that Rabbi Rabinowitz should have kept quiet and let the women who object to WoW chase them our out, or simply let the Wow pray and as they wish and be done with it.

But if it is a public place open to all, and the Women of the Wall can keep men out of their minyan at Robinson’s Arch, what happens if a group of Muslims decide they want to pray to Allah at the Wall?

Or perhaps a bunch of Christians want to pray to “you know who” at the Kotel?

Or maybe some  “cultural Jewish cult” wants to express their faith in God by a belly dance?

Is it kosher to keep men out of a women-only minyan but not kosher for the authority over the Kotel to keep out women who do not respect  a centuries-old tradition?

Israeli Organization Empowers Arab and Druze Women

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Under the auspices of MASHAV-Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, Mazal Renford has worked to promote the cause of both Palestinian and Israeli Arab women. In her capacity as director of Haifa’s Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center, Renford has made great strides to this end. Speaking to participants at the Stand With Us International Women’s Conference, Renford discussed her work to “bring Israelis and Palestinians together,” which involves frequent consultations with Palestinian women from Judea and Samaria.

According to Renford, “If we educate for peace, maybe one day we will enjoy it.” As “a city of peaceful coexistence” where Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze and Bahais live side by side, Renford believes Haifa is the ideal location for her work. Renford’s organization was founded on former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir’s belief that “women weren’t taken into consideration in the process of development,” despite their pivotal importance. In this regard, Renford emphasizes that “Israel has been a pioneer in promoting” women’s development, with the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center providing Palestinian women an opportunity to “come, learn how to set up a business, and stand up for their rights.”

Vered Sawied, a former mayor of Netanya who is presently working for the Prime Minister’s Office as an Advisor for Social and Welfare Issues, notes that while Israeli Jewish women often struggle to find the right balance between work and family, “the situation in Arab society is more difficult.” For this reason, explains Sawied, Israel set up an authority to provide jobs for Arabs as well as specific scholarships for Arab women seeking to enter the hi-tech profession.

Hiba Zaidan, a young Druze PhD student, credits Israeli professors and her family with helping her advance. She claimed that in Druze society, it is considered taboo for a woman to drive, go to school, or even leave the village without an escort. This has created major problems for Druze women who wish to work and study outside the village.

However, Zaidan also emphasized that Druze society is changing due to courageous and bold strides made by Druze women, with many of them now driving and studying to be teachers. She noted, however, that psychological research at the PhD level is still very rare for Druze women. “Lots of people in my village were against me getting a PhD,” she stated. She added that her Israeli professors were very understanding of her situation and always offer her assistance.

Dr. Janan Faraj-Falah was the first Druze woman in Israel to receive her PhD and today works as a lecturer at the University of Haifa, as well as the Arab Academic College for Education. Her book “The Druze Woman” is widely acclaimed both in Israel and around the world as the first book to discuss the status of women in the Druze community. Additionally, she is the founder of the Women’s Vision of Akko Foundation, which brings Jewish and Arab women together to work towards peace.

According to Dr. Faraj-Falah, “I established this association to improve women’s status and support peace. Women bring life into this world so women can also bring peace.” Some of her organization’s projects include constructing peace gardens in which Jewish and Arab children play, teaching Arabic to Jewish women and Hebrew to Arab women, and bringing both Jewish and Palestinian writers together for joint meetings. She emphasizes, “We will continue our march for peace and never give up.” Her work is supported by Renford, who notes, “Bringing Arabs and Jews together can make a big difference.”

Visit United with Israel.

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