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There is an existential threat against the Jewish people. But this one is not external. It is internal. I am not talking about Neturei Karta. I have long ago written them off as well beyond the pale. I’m talking about the mainstream right.

If things continue as they are the Jewish people will be thrown back into the dark ages. And the area in which this will take place – already is taking place is in the area of how we treat our women.

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I refer you to the latest manifestation of this phenomenon. It appears that Agudah has joined forces with those who want to erase women completely from the public square. Their latest ad is one where women’s faces have been blurred out. Had they simply not published any pictures, perhaps they could be forgiven. But that they published and blurred out the faces is yet another troubling step towards a Judaism that is inauthentic in my view.

Ironically, the ad is directed towards women. Which means that it will be mostly women that pay attention to it. It is about an event taking place for women and about women. And yet because those ads will be out in the public square, someone in Agudah found it to be immodest to show the faces of these women.

Remember this is is not Israel. Israel has already experienced this phenomenon in the city of Bet Shemesh. The Moderate Charedi women of Bet Shemesh have come out strongly in opposition to it. This is in Flatbush… a corner of Brooklyn that the center of moderate Charedi Jewry.

I received a letter from a concerned woman who identified herself as Chani. She asked if I could publicize the letter she sent to Flatbush Jewish Journal – which they published. I completely agree with her sentiment. Here is what she said:

This is a call to action. In a letter to the editor, A.M. pointed out that the Yiddishkeit of today is not the Yiddishkeit of our parents and grandparents, and the very next page proved A.M.’s point. It was an advertisement for an event commemorating Sarah Schneirer’s Yahrtzeit and it displayed photos of blurred-out women – and not just any women, but women who represent the Bais Yaakov movement. This erasure of modest, holy women is a result of the same extreme ideas that produced the so-called Taliban women in Israel. We are witnessing the Islamization of Judaism. This trend is exceedingly dangerous, and it is up to this generation to stop it before it becomes so ingrained that the next generation believes it has always existed. If you are as disturbed as I am by this mutation of Judaism, please contact me at preservingjudaism@gmail.com so we can figure out what to do about it.

Indeed. This is not our parents’ and grandparents’ Judaism. Now on the grand scale of things, this may seem unimportant. But I would strongly disagree. It is yet another step in the long road to making our women invisible almost as though they do not exist – using modesty as an excuse. I recall the words of Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet in his lecture attacking separate seating at weddings. There were many reasons he gave for opposing it. But the one thing I recall was his description of how the Gedolim of yesteryear treated their wives in public. They were proud to sit with them at weddings and proud to introduce them to passersby. Making them invisible was about the last thing they wanted to do. At least that was the case with the Lithuanian oriented Roshei Yeshiva.

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Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I wonder the same Jewish men support president Obama. Makes me think that they are neither American or Jewish, just jewish by blood alone and have neither the law or basic knowledge of how important women are in the history of Judaism. We have many strong women dating back to Sarah Abraham’s wife, and we should never hide them or cover them up or make them feel less important some how.
    This is what Islam does, is this how these jewish men behave? I love our women and am proud of them. They stand alone and do what they have to in order to raise their families which is the most important part of being alive, because without life we have nothing. We cannot Praise G-D nor live by his law and be loved by G-D and others. G-D made woman to be a companion to man and not a slave to him. Cherish her for she was given by G-D to you.

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