For at least the past seven years or so, the State of Israel has been subjecting converts to intense examinations and inquiries regarding the level of their religious observance. When a convert requests that a rabbinic court administer a get in the context of an amicable divorce, rabbinic judges will surreptitiously cross-examine the convert: Did she turn lights on during the Sabbath? Use the ritual bath? When a convert, or the child of a convert, requests a license to marry, the Marriage Registrar will refer the applicant to a rabbinic court so that it can “investigate his or her Jewishness.”
Recently, a number of media outlets have reported the statements of the haredi rabbinic leadership in Israel regarding academic study for women. Last Tuesday, a group of leading haredi rabbis met and declared that women should not study in any secular higher education institutions or obtain secular academic degrees. Coming in the midst of discussions of other hot button issues on women’s role in Orthodoxy, such as the debates over women’s ordination, many have interpreted this move as a way for rabbis to control women, keeping them uneducated and in their place. This reaction is a misunderstanding of the issues involved in this situation, and removes these statements from their context. While there are certainly gender issues within Orthodoxy, that’s not actually what is going on here.
A Hanukkah near-miracle reminds us of feminist divisions
The recent shooting at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which resulted in the murder of three innocent people, was a tragedy. But it was not a shock.
The Jewish tradition teaches that language can kill. In fact we learn that the tongue can be so dangerous that it is kept hidden from view between the mouth and the teeth to prevent its misuse, and that there is nothing worse than an evil tongue.