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Isn't it pretty?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

No Education Too?

Ezzie linked to an article from Haaretz which discusses a ban recently placed on continuing education programs for Ultra-Orthodox women.

I have to say, my most persistent thought on the matter is that I just don't get it. I don't understand why women should be barred from continuing education classes, especially ones specifically designed for these religious women. I don't comprehend why anyone would not want to encourage teachers from being educated. I can not fathom why leaders of the communities would put so many roadblocks in the way of families being able to support themselves. There are so many problems with this proclamation that I barely know where to start.

The adherents of Ultra-Orthodox factions in Israel are trying so hard to do the right thing and to follow their leaders. But, as Krum facetiously pointed out, the leaders' decrees seem almost specifically to cause people to want to leave the religion. Could they possibly make things any more difficult for their followers? I feel as if everything they are encouraging is antithetical to anyone being able to succeed in life.

For example, all men are being encouraged to learn full-time. Which they get paid extremely little for. So, who's supposed to earn a living? Their wives. But of course these livings should only be specifically approved and those professions that are approved are, of course, not ones in which someone is going to earn a decent salary. Then, the families are encouraged to have many children, as many as possible. But the husbands are learning full-time, which means the wives have to work, which means there is no one at home with all those children. But now, if a woman should want to advance her career with continuing education, so that maybe she can work a limited number of hours but earn a higher salary for doing so, she isn't allowed. And many of these women were going to continuing education courses to improve their teaching skills. Now that they are barred from doing so, guess what's going to happen to the education system? The next generation of students, being educated by uneducated teachers is going to suffer, and in the generation after that there is going to be little hope. A self-perpetuating cycle of poverty and ignorance. Great, I'm sure that's the point of men learning Torah full-time.

This paragraph just stood out because it makes no sense to me whatsoever:

The new directives completely cancel the programs equivalent to B.A. studies, as well as the programs for education consultants and didactic diagnosticians, who trace learning impairments. Graduates of teacher seminaries will be able to apply for teaching certificates only after a hiatus of at least one year - to enable them to get married.

Put aside the fact that now women can't, once married, have the equivalent of Bachelor's degrees in order to possibly know what they are talking about. But instead of working for a living to possibly help out their, most likely, overburdened families, or to maybe save a little money before marriage in order that they start out married life not in abject poverty before having as many children as possible in the same number of years, now they can NOT work. Instead, they should date. Great idea.

I could probably go on and on about how this reeks of the subjugation of women and and how it binds so many from success, putting unnecessary burden where it doesn't have to be, and how these kinds of decisions make me mad and sad and make Ultra-Orthodox Judaism seem more and more like a cult, with its fear of having educated women who might actually think for themselves. But I'll finish here with this - I have, in the past, been afraid to proclaim myself a feminist. But when these kind of announcements are made, I am proudly one - meaning I am all for educated women being able to make their own decisions and choose their own paths, not a world in which women's options are obliterated. And if that means I'm a bad Jew, and don't give proper respect to our so-called leaders who apparently don't really want anyone to succeed and be happy, so be it.


  • Heh, second time this happened. I started out writing you a comment, but then it just got longer and longer, and eventually I said, "heck, I'll make it its own post".

    It's now up on our blog. =p

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/3/07, 12:57 PM  

  • this has nothing to do with frumkeit, and everything to do with fear and domination. same thing with the infamous "bus incident."

    By Blogger Maven, at 1/3/07, 1:57 PM  

  • Maven,

    Please explain why the "fear and domination" have nothing to do with the culture that is producing them?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/3/07, 2:19 PM  

  • I say, just nod your head and say, "yeah, yeah!" and then go out and get your PHD.

    By Blogger kasamba, at 1/3/07, 2:36 PM  

  • LT -
    Well put over on your end.

    Maven -
    I think what you mean is that it has nothing to do with the intention of Torah.

    Kasamba -
    Don't worry - I plan on it!

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 1/3/07, 8:19 PM  

  • This is not a feminist issue, its a control issue. And when it comes to control the Yeshivish world is an equal opportunity offender - they control the men as well as the women.

    Sheep, they want us all to be sheep's.

    Bahhhhhh.... (Not!)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/4/07, 2:18 AM  

  • This is not a feminist issue, its a control issue. And when it comes to control the Yeshivish world is an equal opportunity offender.

    But people have to submit themselves to that control. And a person is more likely to submit to control if either they get something good out of it, or if the demands placed on them aren't seen as too onerous.

    Personally, I'd much rather submit to a system that demands I spend all day sitting on my butt and learning - a system free from the pressures of supporting a family, and a system in which I am never held accountable - than I would to a system in which I am responsible for giving birth to many children, and then working to support those children and a husband while at the same time cooking food and cleaning the house.


    If you had to choose one, to which system of control would you rather submit?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/4/07, 10:12 AM  

  • i just want to say i'm a lubavitcher, and our rebbe suggested ONE year of kollel. I don't buy this business of the wife supporting the family while the husband learns all day.

    By Blogger Maven, at 1/4/07, 10:42 AM  

  • P-Life -
    I might agree with you if all the decisions were not being made exclusively by men, to the point of refusing to allow women to be educated enough to be able to make any choices for themselves. The same can not be said for men, nor can it be said that the men's choices are being restricted as tightly as women's, in all areas. Furthermore, the intimidation factor makes it a feminist issue. As Maven pointed out, this ruling bears a similarity to the situation a few weeks ago in which a woman on a bus was beaten because she refused to move seats. This would not have happened to a man sitting in the women's section.

    LT -
    And don't forget that men are taught that they are not even supposed to help out with the house or taking care of the children - that's bittul Torah. Not a feminist issue, yeah right. Who made up all these rules?

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 1/4/07, 11:18 AM  

  • Maybe there is a lack of awareness of how much control and restrictions they put on men as well. How to think, who to speak to, what you can watch, see, or read (nevermind the Internet!) what you can wear, and your daily activities are tightly controlled for men as well.

    Higher education for men is equally frowned upon. The Yeshivish (and chasidish) system is built upon the notion that the average person can not discern for themselves between right and wrong so the "leaders" must do so for you. It is equally difficult for many men and women. While there are areas of greater difficulty for women, when you combine the duties that a man must do to fulfill mitzvahs with the chumras and cultural restrictions imposed by the Yeshivish world, it reaches a breaking point for many who are not cookie cutters, flow with the crowd types.

    IMHO this issues is really about control, not persecution of women. Men are being persecuted as well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/4/07, 4:02 PM  

  • Sounds very cultish but I have always thought that anyway. Jewish people have always strived for learning and education. We are readers and learners..it is genetic even. To hold people back from learning and doing better is a sin. Something is very wrong here.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/6/07, 8:44 AM  

  • All I can say is I heard a Shiur at a recent Yarchi Calla on Derech Eretz . The speaker said the bottom line is if it isnt pleasant it isnt Torah..

    By Blogger Semgirl, at 1/6/07, 7:34 PM  

  • I shook my head a few times at this, and wondered how much the current system in Israel is predicated on receiving huge government subsidies. If those subsidies go away (and the secular Jews are sick and tired of paying for them!) the UO are going to have to get off their b*tts and make their own money.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/6/07, 11:45 PM  

  • The new directives completely cancel the programs equivalent to B.A. studies, as well as the programs for education consultants and didactic diagnosticians, who trace learning impairments. Graduates of teacher seminaries will be able to apply for teaching certificates only after a hiatus of at least one year - to enable them to get married

    With what those Rabbis are proposing no one will be able to understand this paragraph..

    By Blogger Semgirl, at 1/7/07, 12:01 AM  

  • I was going to write 'No comment' which is pretty lame for a comment's section, but I'm pretty disgusted and not at all surprised.

    Don't worry about being a bad Jew as I'm as bad as they get. I've just finished a chicken and bacon sandwich and extinguished my cigarette. I drink, I don't keep the sabbath, and I'm not particularly interested in the high holidays.

    But! I know my roots. I'm a keen genealogist. I'd ideally like to marry a nice Jewish lady (who doesn't nag). There is so much more to life - IMHO everything about life - beyond the constraints of any religion. I know some wonderful people, all non-Jews, one in particular a Muslim, and another who is a devout Christian, who mean the world to me. I wouldn't know these people if I were a pious Jew.

    I lost all faith a few years ago when I attended a family barmitzvah. That particular side of my family are more frum than we are, and was nought but disgusted when they stuck my Mum - who is in a wheelchair with Multiple Sclerosis - at the back of the Shul and behind a screen in case, well, I have no idea. Perhaps in case a nearby man was overcome with lust, or perhaps to hide the shame of a woman being near the rabbi and his male congregation.

    All religion now gives me serious cause for concern. Any religious book will contradict another religion's book. Each religious book will condradict itself within its own pages. Humanity does the most disgraceful things to itself in the name of, and in spite of, religion. As I have got older, I have seen wonderful things in many countries. I have also seen how women are better people than men (except when I'm trying to meet them in bars). Furthermore, I do not like men dictating what women can or cannot do, particularly when they decree that it is not in keeping with their faith. It is subjugation and control, pure and simple. To deny a woman education is disgraceful.

    At the end of the day, I have the utmost respect for all religions, even if it is not something I subscribe to. I also have the utmost respect for the irreligious, for both sexes and all sexualities, all colours and all nationalities (except the French). Unless anyone behaves in a manner that disrespects or threatens me, everyone has my approval.

    My mantra is there are only ever good people and bad people. Both types have many different hues, sexes, faiths and languages. The trick is to spot who's who.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/7/07, 2:46 PM  

  • P-Life -
    There are two points that bother me the most about this issue, which you are failing to address. 1) The control is being done by men upon women. Women have no say in the matter whatsoever. This is not the case for men.
    2) Men are not being asked to do the impossible - support their families financially while also keeping the home, raising the children etc. The "control" and freedom taken from men in choosing a profession is possibly not what all men would choose, but they aren't being asked to shoulder the responsibilities of women in exchange. Women are being asked to do it all, men's and women's responsibilities, and again, by the decision of men. That's a feminist issue.

    Stephanie, Anon, Semgirl -
    I agree.

    Fweng -
    Excellent comment. Good luck on the no-nagging Jewish lady! That might be hard to come by!

    I agree with a LOT of what you said. However, I don't asgree that you would necessarily not know the wonderful people in your life if you were a "pious" Jew. As I said in my post, I'm sure there are some who would consider me "bad," but in general, I am an observant Jew, and I also manage to have friends of different races, religions and backgrounds, and I would hate to see what my life would be like without those people in it. I think your line that states "there are only ever good people and bad people. Both types have many different hues, sexes, faiths and languages" is completely accurate. I was taught growing up to judge people based on their character, not what they look like and no matter how religious I get or don't get, that's what I do.

    I think that too many people take religion to an extreme, and I'm not sure whether that's a symptom of religious fervor gone wrong or in the very nature of being a religious person. I'd like to think the former and that there can be religion without going to extremes are hurting its adherents.

    I think the key is in that respect that you mentioned - it's fine for me to practice my religion and for someone else to practice theirs, and if we respect each other to do so, I don't think there will be as many issues as there now are. The problem is in getting people to actually respect each other, and themselves, enough to see that each person can make their own decisions for themselves.

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 1/8/07, 11:44 AM  

  • Shoshana,

    You wrote: "1) The control is being done by men upon women. Women have no say in the matter whatsoever. This is not the case for men."

    How is that not the case for men? By men the control is done by men upon men and the men being controlled have no say in the issue. I don't see why its more offensive to be controlled by a member of the opposite sex versus being controlled by a member of the same sex. Would it be any better if this was women controlling women?

    As far as your second issue, while I wont defend the lifestyle lets not make it all black and white. For most couples at the end of the day the Male still feels responsible to figure out how pay for everything. I know plenty of Lakewood men who take side jobs at tutors or teachers in order to help make ends meet. I am not saying that some women don't get a raw deal, they do, (remember also that they are choosing this lifestyle and while its true they are brainwashed about how great it is, they are also warned that if they can't live up to it they shouldn't do it) but its really unfair to make this about oppression of women.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/9/07, 2:39 AM  

  • Would it be any better if this was women controlling women?

    In a word: yes.

    In more than a word: Of course it still sucks. Systems of control are generally not good things. But they are not all equally bad. And I think that if women were the ones making decision for other women, they'd reach some very different decisions than the men have. The women in the chareidi world would still probably have a raw deal, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be less raw.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/9/07, 2:54 AM  

  • P-Life -
    Let me put it like this - if the rules were being made by Nazis for Jews, and the Nazis were themselves still being limited in some fashion, but maybe not quite in the same way, would you still be defending them?

    When people who have power make decisions and take away rights and opportunities from those who don't have power - that is oppression. And it is certainly in effect here.

    By Blogger Shoshana, at 1/9/07, 8:10 AM  

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