If we succeeded at pushing the government to find a solution on a matter as sensitive as the Western Wall, then we can also push Israel's leadership — from a perspective of self interest — to make other, equally positive decisions. By Batya Kallus Last Sunday, following a 27-year struggle by Women of the Wall, the Israeli government approved a plan to create a new pluralistic, egalitarian and feminist plaza alongside the ultra-Orthodox prayer plaza at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. This is first and foremost a victory for Jewish feminists. But imagine — a group of Jewish religious women…Read More...
Homophobia in the ultra-Orthodox community is primarily expressed through silence — it simply isn’t discussed. After a haredi man stabbed six people at the Jerusalem Pride Parade, that silence may have been tragically broken. By Eli Bitan In the summer of 2006 I first learned about gays, lesbians and the LGBT community, concepts that until then, as a 15-year-old haredi (ultra-Orthodox) yeshiva student, I was completely unfamiliar with. The haredi community made a colossal mistake that summer by launching a struggle against the international Pride Parade scheduled to take place in Jerusalem that year. The result was catastrophic for haredis…Read More...
The plan was to write a leisurely travel journal: a record of Canaan's summer nights, but the journey began with a dark event: a stabbing at Jerusalem pride, and took on a different nature. Welcome to a seven-part, nocturnal diary of shock and recovery, a true story from an emotional land. For other nights click here. The plan is simple: I will only write about things that happened after dark. Still, I must begin with something that happened at dusk. It was 6:30 p.m. or so and we were walking in central West Jerusalem when six people got stabbed right…Read More... | 2 Comments
Yom-LeYom, the official weekly of the Shas party, published the traditional group portrait of the cabinet and the president this morning — with one notable amendment: Ministers Miri Regev (Culture), Ayelet Shaked (Justice) and Gila Gamliel (Immigrant Absorption and, you guessed it, Gender Equality) were all airbrushed out. Here is the original: And here is the Shas version: Although there is no specific instruction in Jewish law that bans pictures of women, many ultra-Orthodox publications err on the side of caution so as not, um, lead their readers into temptation. Haredi media famously censored pictures of the Charlie Hebdo solidarity…Read More... | 1 Comment
On election day, Palestinians in East Jerusalem aren't worrying about who will be the next prime minister — they are too busy trying to protect their homes. I decided to start my day, Election Day, at the Western Wall. With all due respect to the ballot box, the Wall is the real thing when it comes to depositing small pieces of paper. The entire plaza was surprisingly empty. Aside from tourists there were very few worshipers. Three ultra-Orthodox girls giggled behind a table near the entrance, writing something on small pieces of paper. With a smile, I ask them if…Read More...
The next Knesset is expected to have a record number of women, but even that number — 31 out of 120 — isn't all that impressive. 'Either we do something now and fight for representation, or we will be silenced for generations to come,' founder of ultra-Orthodox women's party says. By Angela Gruber If recent polls are to be believed, the next Knesset is set to achieve a historical record: the representation of women could be the highest in its history. When you look at the actual numbers, however, the record is less impressive. Women make up half of the population…Read More...
The ultra-Orthodox party, which has drifted far to the right over the past several years, reaches out to the all the Israelis who are not middle-class - which is to say, the majority. Shas, the party founded by the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and today led by Rabbi Aryeh Deri, is usually seen as the narrowly-sectorial party of the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox. Even the kingmaker status it had enjoyed for nearly two decades is usually (and rather haughtily) ascribed by commentators to their ability to march a docile and obedient religious minority to the polling stations, rather than to broad popular…Read More... | 7 Comments
Tel Aviv isn't a single bubble, but rather a bubble made up of myriad sexual, political and social identities. But between the sex, drugs and rock n' roll lies a city whose nightlife is also full of homegrown segregation. Part 12 of Yuval Ben-Ami’s journey through the Holy Land’s most popular tourist sites. It was American-Jewish thinker Abraham Joshua Heschel who proposed, in his essay dedicated to the holy Seventh Day, that the Sabbath is "a palace in time." “Judaism," he wrote, "teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to learn how to consecrate…Read More... | 2 Comments
Buses carrying 'Women of the Wall' advertisements are vandalized and attacked; until earlier this year the Egged bus company refused to run ads featuring photos of women in Jerusalem. Unlike the majority of Jewish communities in western countries, most girls in Israel do not usually have bat mitzvah ceremonies. A new Jerusalem campaign promoting the right of girls to have the ceremonies at the Western Wall has been met with violence by ultra-Orthodox elements in the city. Busses carrying the advertisements, paid for by Women of the Wall, have been vandalized and the posters themselves ripped off of public buses.…Read More... | 7 Comments
IDF officer admits Operation Brother's Keeper has little to do with returning the kidnapped teenagers. By Yael Marom Parts of Operation Brother's Keeper were planned in advance and are being implemented with no connection to their stated purpose - the return of the three kidnapped Israelis teenagers - according to an IDF officer in Jenin. The officer, who spoke to the ultra-Orthodox news outlet "Hadrei Haredim," (Hebrew) said that the army has been preparing for an operation in the city due to the arming of residents there. According to Hadrei Hadarim, the officer stated that the army is intentionally trying to…Read More...
'The sergeant told him that he cannot make a call because he is a military prisoner, and that he cannot use the phone because he didn't wear his hat on time,' Ferera's lawyer says. By Daniel Beller Uriel Ferera, the young Orthodox conscientious objector who was sentenced to military jail for refusing to join the Israeli army, says he was made to stand almost completely naked while his guards laughed at him. Furthermore, the guards ridiculed his faith and humiliated him while he prayed. Later, the IDF prevented Ferea from receiving letters, emails and faxes in support of his refusal.…Read More...
Uriel Ferera, a 19-year-old Haredi from Be'er Sheva, was raised on the values of social justice and peace. Now, the IDF has announced it will jail him for an undetermined period of time for refusing to serve. By Daniel Beller When Uriel Ferera was born in Argentina 19 years ago, democracy in the South American country was an established fact, and no one was being jailed for having left-wing views, not to mention being a pacifist. On April 27th, in Israel - a country that likes to call itself “The only democracy in the Middle East” - he will be…Read More... | 12 Comments
Over 70 Israeli activists publish an open letter in support of the ultra-Orthodox community, as it struggles against a new law that would draft its young men into the army or national civil service. (Translated from Hebrew by Asaf Shalev) We, civilians and activists – religious, masorti (tradition-committed) and secular - wish to express our support for the struggle of the ultra-Orthodox community against forced military enlistment. There must be an end to the empty rhetoric employed by the Israeli government and its constituent parties that are calling for the "sharing of the burden" of military service, by which they…Read More... | 8 Comments
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