Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Waitresses under the gun in Israel

Two recent stories from Jacob's Bones raise important issues regarding women's rights in Israel.

Last January, Lior Weintraub, speaking on behalf of the Israeli Embassy, wrote to the NY Times in response to their coverage of the women's rights issues
“Israeli Women Core of Debate on Orthodoxy” ([Israelis Facing a Seismic Rift Over Role of Women) points out the challenges faced by Israel in balancing the principles of democracy and pluralism. Though the examples cited are serious, they are peripheral to the lives of the vast majority of Israeli women, who enjoy full and equal rights unrivaled anywhere in the Middle East — indeed, in most of the world...Any threat to women’s rights in Israel will be resisted by Israel’s leaders, among them the three government ministers, 24 members of Parliament, the heads of Israel’s two main opposition parties, a general on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chief justice of the Supreme Court, all of whom are women."
But less than two months later, where is the resistance? See Dimona Girl Kicked out of School for Working at McDonalds with the Boys
Efrat Daniel, in senior at Shalhevet HaDarom (“שלהבת הדרום“) High School in Dimona, has been suspended from school for the last three months because she worked at kosher McDonalds during the previous summer.
The school in Dimona receives State funds.
Efrat’s school objected to the fact that her co-workers included men and perhaps also the standard McDonalds employee costume. When they found out several months into the year how she spent her summer they expelled her. The family says that the school would only let her daughter back if she attended a post-graduation seminar for girls that would conflict with national service...The head of the school, Rabbi Yaakov Hemed ...denied that the school forbid students to do national service, but he did confirm that they preferred students to do teacher’s seminary rather than service. He did not specifically deny that they had added a post graduation requirement for Efrat that would conflict with army service.
Read more at Jacob's Bones, which has links to the media coverage and sources for the Dimona story.

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, a restaurant in a mixed (Haredi, Secular) neighborhood was forced to pick between waitresses and a kosher certification. "A restaurant in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem, Heimishe Esin ( ‘היימישע עסין’ ), was told that it could not hire waitresses on Thursday night if it wanted a...kashrut certificate. So he removed women from those shifts." Click Click here to read more.

Update: The Jerusalem story was picked up by Haaretz and Forward

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