To those who haven’t heard, Chief Rabbi of Israel (Sephardic) Amar has officially cancelled the first international agunot conference that was to be held in Jerusalem in a few days. For those who need a refresher, here is one source on agunot and here is another. Amar’s cronies seem to want to place the blame on ultra-Orthodox rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, a respected rabbi, but Elyashiv’s camp is denying the story.

It matters that somebody in the elite rabbinic circles pressed and successfully got Amar to cancel this conference, especially when it was so close to happening. Why would anybody seek to harm a process intended to help women who find themselves in limbo for so many years, often through no fault of their own? Why would someone seek to do this when it’s clear the women are desperate for help. Reading the Jerusalem Post’s account, it appears the agunah support groups even consented to have no females present at the conference – that’s right, they were agreeable to having no women take part in a conference about women. Still, this seems to matter little to the powers-that-be, the monopolistic powers of the Chief Rabbinate and other rabbinical groups who would be the only ones able to put forth solutions to resolve the issues affecting agunot.

Oh well, who cares anyway. What does it matter if a woman has to sit out her child-bearing years and remain unmarried while her ex-husband does as he pleases? After all, there are really important issues to tackle out there, like gay pride parades.

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  • Here’s a letter that’s being sent around to various Jerusallem shuls opposing the violence that is being encouraged to take place at the Gay Pride Parade next Friday. I’m not sure which congregations are signing, some of them just got it tonight, but I do know that Kehilat Yedidya is signing (I’m on the board and confirmed this with one of the co-chairs over Shabbat). I’m also not sure where it will appear, but I assume it will be in one or more Israeli newspaper.

    I couldn’t find it online anyplace but at the below link. It’s only in Hebrew, but basically iit says that we condemn the calls for violence.

    http://www.hashkafah.com/index.php?showtopic=31674&st=0&#entry697533

  • Someone sent me an English translation of the Hebrew letter to which I posted a link above.

    “And they shall answer and say ‘Our hands have not shed this blood.’”

    We, members of religious communities in Jerusalem, wish to absolutely disassociate ourselves from words that have been heard in recent days with regard to the “Gay Pride” march that is supposed to take place next Friday in Jerusalem. These words have included incitement toward and understanding of violence, attempts to quash freedom of expression, and contempt for other people.

    As citizens of Jerusalem, and as people who see ourselves as an inseparable part of its religious community, we are unable to keep silent when we hear threats of serious violence, especially in light of the fact that similar threats were actualized at last year’s parade. We are conscious of the fact that the campaign of incitement against the march is being described as having the supported of all segments of the city’s religious community, and it is essential to make clear that many, many from this community are in fact disgusted by it. We particularly regret that some of the representatives of the religious educational system, in which our children study, have taken part in this incitement.

    This declaration does not constitute support for the march itself, or expression of any position at all regarding its appropriateness or correctness. Among us there are many divergent opinions on the subject, and we respect the right of all sides to express them. But along with this, the seriousness of the words which have been said in recent days obligates all leaders of the community to distance themselves from any hint of incitement or understanding for violence. This affair proves how short the distance is between stifling freedom of expression for those whose beliefs and opinions disagree with our own, and serious violence. The connection of extremist elements and lawbreakers with respected religious leaders, whose ways we usually agree with, nonetheless obligates them to open their eyes and return them to behaving like the “pure ones of Jerusalem.” Lip service will not be enough to prevent violence, and if the expected threats materialize (without protest), the more responsible members of the community will also not have clean hands.

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