Even though Jewish communal groups claim to place a huge emphasis on family life and Jewish continuity, most of the nation’s rabbinical seminaries still do not offer their employees paid parental leave.
The Jewish Theological Seminary has become the largest Jewish seminary in America to offer its employees fully paid parental leave.
Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg’s recent Barnard commencement address has become one of the most popular of the season. It has been linked to a quoted all over the Internet; the Forward excerpted it and so, too, did The New York Times. And right on.
If you have a career, being a mother in this country costs you — in promotions and salary, and, because of a near total lack of legally mandated parental leave, in physical and emotional health as well. This is a well-known reality for every working mom I know, and now the international NGO Human Rights Watch has published a comprehensive look at the breadth and depth of the problem, and notes that it also has a negative impact on the economy.
Last year, the non-profit organization Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community set out to improve work-life polices, such as paid parental leave, job-sharing and formalized flex time, at 100 Jewish organizations. AWP’s founding president, Shifra Bronznick, recently spoke with The Sisterhood about the progress made as the result of AWP’s Better Work Life Campaign, and what remains to be done.
Until recently, only women in Israel received automatic parental leave following childbirth. The husband, while entitled by law to up to 6 weeks of leave, could only take off from work once the mother returned to work, and only after a period of six weeks from the birth date. But this may be about to change. According to a bill introduced by Kadima MK Robert Tiviaev, new fathers will be entitled to a seven day leave with pay, starting on the day that a new baby is born.
The Sisterhood Digest:
The Jewish community rightly holds its leaders responsible for managing complex organizational tasks. Yet when it comes to creating workplaces that routinely hire, advance and retain women in positions of authority and visibility, many leaders throw up their hands. So here’s a thought: Let’s all of us, leaders and constituents, stop acting like the advancement of women in Jewish communal life is impossibly complicated. If communal leaders follow these three easy steps, and all of the rest of us hold them accountable to committing themselves to concrete change, we will together improve Jewish organizations for women — and for men.
Okay, I’m jumping back in the ring. When I wrote recently about feeling like a bad feminist for wanting to stay home with my newborn daughter, I didn’t expect quite the response I got. Elana, while I do take issue with some of what you have to say, you’re spot on that women should stop asking for permission. In my post, I was seeking approval — mostly my mother’s, who granted it (thank you, Sisterhood, for letting us work out our mother-daughter issues). And while I understand your point that men and women need to share the parenting load, I don’t think anybody — man or woman — will be free to be parents until we have some real societal change.