Posts Tagged: JOFA Results 19
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Up there amid all the sports stars, movie actors and underwear models, those are the faces of Jewish Orthodox feminists gazing down at you from a billboard in Times Square on Wednesday.
For one day only, the countenances of five individuals who have advanced the cause of Orthodox feminism will be flashed on a screen above the entrance to the W hotel on the southwest corner of 47th St. and Broadway. The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance is behind the spectacle.
I cannot fathom the idea of working on a problem for 40 years. And yet, there is a whole group of Jewish women — and a handful of men — who have been doing just that. These are the agunah activists, some of whom have been fighting to find solutions for agunot — women trapped in unwanted marriages to recalcitrant husbands due to women’s lack of exit power from Jewish marriage – since the advent of the feminist movement in the 1970s. These activists, who demonstrate incredible perseverance and determination often with very little outcome, would be forgiven for giving up. But it’s possible that this week they may have reached a certain light at the end of the tunnel.
When asked at a JOFA panel about the status of women in Israel and what can be done to protect women’s basic rights, I replied that I would first make it illegal for a political party that has no women on its list to run for the Knesset. Thankfully, I’m not alone in this sentiment. In fact, a new movement is beginning to form of Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox women fighting against the exclusion of women from religious political parties.
Esti Shoshan, a haredi journalist, recently started a Facebook page called Lo nivharot, lo boharot, which means “If we can’t be elected, we are not voting.” As of this writing, the group has over 800 likes — perhaps not the stuff of a Steve Jobs fan page, but signs of movement nonetheless. And it comes at a particularly significant time in the development of religious politics. The legality of religious parties of Shas and United Torah Judaism is currently being debated by the Elections Council, under the leadership of Supreme Court justice Elyakim Rubinstein, based on a petition filed by a coalition of seven organizations led by Jerusalem city council member Laura Wharton contesting the systemic exclusion of women from party lists.