Friday, April 5, 2013

Outreach Yeshivas: Insulting Paying Parents?

photo credit:
http://transitionvoice.com
  An issue that continues to stay close to my heart is that of the lack of religious tolerance shown towards women: both those of the orthodox world and those who are part of the Conservative, Reform, or other liberal branches of Judaism. Every time I hear about another incident in which Haredi men throw chairs at the Women of the Wall, or that women are arrested for praying at the Kotel [the Western Wall] in a way that is not in alignment with orthodox Judaism, I burn with anger not only for those of my gender who just want to have religious freedom, but for those women who are being taught in outreach programs that women have the right to pray at the Kotel, but only as dictated by the ultra-orthodox institutions in which they're learning. This week, Debra Nussbaum Cohen wrote in the Forward that:
  
In a March 14 letter to Anat Hoffman, chair of Women of the Wall, Yossi Pariente wrote that he met with a deputy attorney general for the government of Israel to go over the rules pertaining to Women of the Wall, which include prohibitions on:
…Wrapping yourselves in tallitot [prayer shawls], holding a minyan [prayer quorum] of women including the Kaddish or Kedusha prayers, and reading from the Torah.
Pariente warns that, starting on the next Rosh Chodesh, which falls on April 11, Women of the Wall will be arrested and charged with breaking the law for doing any of these things.1
The most recent arrests were on February 11, when ten women were arrested for wearing tallitot [prayer shawls] at the Wall. Yes. They were arrested for wearing fabric to which people ascribe spiritual importance. Because Haredi men find this offensive, Israeli police were used as tools of the ultra-orthodox to arrest non-orthodox, yet obviously religious, women who chose to pray in a non-orthodox manner.
     Not only is it reprehensible that women are being arrested for spiritual practices that don't hurt anyone, it is appalling that not one kiruv/outreach group (to my knowledge at the time of this post) has stood against these arrests. By not standing up to the maltreatment of Jewish women (who want to pray!) by a Haredi-controlled Israeli police force, these groups are complicit in these acts.  To add insult to injury, the Women of the Wall practice liberal and tolerant Judaism--the same type of Judaism practiced by the Conservative and Reform parents of the students attending Israel's outreach yeshivas. These parents are often the ones who foot whatever remains of the sometimes-subsidized bills for their sons and daughters to remain in these ultra-orthodox programs, and are often hit up with requests for donations to these institutions. These are the very same institutions that consistently condemn and disrespect the parents of prospective baalei teshuvah (newly religious Jews) by insulting the way they raised their children, by making nasty comments about their denominations, and by attempting to make young adults ultra-orthodox.


1. Cohen, Debra Nussbaum.  Crackdown Continues for Women at Western Wall. 4/3/2013. Forward Mobile. accessed 4/5/2013.









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