Look, over the years here on Jewlicious, we’ve had some uncomfortable debates about aspects of halacha – Jewish law – that to some of us appeared outdated and WRONG, and to others among us appeared to be the way things are and have to remain. Among flash-points such as what it means to keep the sabbath, what, if anything, is the Jewish value of Conservative and Reform Judaism other than to subsidize Orthodox Jews, whether converts who converted in movements other than Orthodox are actually Jewish, whether children of Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers who identify themselves as Jewish are indeed Jewish and should visitors at the Western Wall be segregated or divided into the haves (men) and have-nots (women), there was one particular topic that always raised my ire: agunot.

To those who don’t know, according to Jewish law, when a man wants to divorce a woman, he gives her a “get” which is his consent to be divorced. Without that “get,” the woman is not considered divorced and may not remarry in Jewish tradition. She is an agunah (agunot is the plural form). If she does remarry, it would most certainly not be considered valid by Orthodox rabbis and the children would be considered bastards which carries all sorts of negative connotations. In other words, this is a rabbinic sanction for a man to have extensive leverage over the woman who despises him sufficiently to seek a divorce from him. To give up the “get,” he can ask for money, sex, favors and all sorts of other goodies because until he says the magic words, the woman is “his” (literally, since that is what the traditional ketubah – marriage contract – stipulates).

Needless to say, this happens all the time. It’s actually even worse for some women because the husband so hates the wife that he does not grant her the “get” under any circumstances. She waits for years, usually her finite child-bearing years, hoping that he’ll release her, but very often he will move on with his life and out of spite refuse to grant her the “get.”

The rabbis know all of this, of course. In Israel, they have the luxury of controlling civil laws pertaining to marriage and divorce so the issue of receiving the “get” takes on even greater importance since the woman cannot even get around the country’s civil administration unless the husband grants a “get.” Over the years, some rabbis have tried different solutions. Some have tried pre-nuptial agreements, but the rabbis who control the rabbinate have rejected most of these agreements because the man, according to tradition, must come to the decision of his own volition and not because of coercion (Get it? He can coerce his wife any way he wants, but he cannot be coerced). Other rabbis send tough guys over to the guy’s house where they are supposed to apply, um, pressure on him. That’s supposed to work, but often it doesn’t because this is a form of coercion and unless the guy is seriously afraid that somebody is going to risk going to jail over this, chances are he won’t budge.

All of this is preamble to what this post is really about: how well halacha works!

From the Jerusalem Post:

A 50-year-old man from the Jerusalem area divorced for the 11th time, a new Israeli record for Jews, according to an announcement released Monday by the Rabbinical Court Administration.

The man, whose divorces were performed both in Israel and abroad in accordance with Halacha, said his custom is to divorce his wives every two years and look for a new bride immediately after.

“I throw out a hook and the fish come on their own,” the man reportedly said.

In his latest marriage, which also lasted two years, the two sides split the debts the husband had accrued. The woman claimed her husband had promised to work but ended up living off her assets and those of her parents.

See? What did I tell you? Halacha works! This guy gives a “get” on schedule and does not leave his wives as agunot, not even once out of eleven chances.

It’s good to be a man.

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  • 1) Any system can be gamed by the unscrupulous – this is also part of the problem with the Agunah issue: the system never anticipate such disgusting behavior.
    2) I don’t recall there being any spirited “defense” of the Agunah mess – more like gnashing of teeth at rabbinic indifference, when there are halachic approaches to fixing the problem.

  • There was defense of the Rabbinate’s continued jurisdiction on marital matters. I don’t recall any defense of rabbinical foot-dragging or indifference.

  • Here at Jewlicious it is always interesting to see how an article can be written against Orthodx Judaism and better yet G-d and his Torah as if it was the status quo.

    Is this article a reality? Yes there are evil men who exploit Torah and the Gemara is chalk full of examples of how you can manipulate the Torah to do everything the Torah prohibits.

    I just wish that Jewlicious could be fair and balanced when discussing things most of the writers dont agree with like Torah.

    Maybe you could write an article about the Rabbis who show up at your door with 2 huge thugs 6’2” 280lb with long payos handing you a get to sign. I am close with a Rabbi who did that for many years here in Los Angeles. Very successful I might add.

    Would that not generate the same amount of excitement and account for the same statistical average as the negative?

    I was thinking of starting a non profit org that persuades men to give their wives gets. Question is who would give money to such an org?

  • LB Chasid, we have a founder who is observant, we have Rabbi Yonah Bookstein with us and we have had viewpoints expressed by Orthodox Judaism espoused here on many occasions both in posts and comments.

    Bringing this critical issue to our site is important because it’s important to point out why things are the way they are. This man may be an exception, but he’s been given about 8 divorces too many without any problem while there are women who, under the very same system, may not remarry even if their husbands are exactly like this pig.

    Bringing a couple of thugs to the door is great and pro-active and so is forcing the couple to sign a pre-nuptial that compels the husband to pay a small fortune for every day he doesn’t grant the get. But these are band-aid solutions, and they don’t address the real problem which is the inherent unfairness of the treatment of men and women when it comes to divorce in Jewish law. Rejecting it isn’t enough, this practice needs to be abolished.

  • I know very well who writes for Jewlicious middle dont worry 😀 Who knows we probably both met and never even knew!

    I also pay attention to how articles are written and not just what they say and this article once again makes something that is an issue look like an epidemic.

    What is the goal of this article anyway except people to think that Orthodox Judaism find this acceptable and that there is nothing wrong with this. Any Beit Din can annul a marriage and im sure the Israel bureaucracy does not help people like this exploit such a system.

    I missed how this guy is able to get out of fulfilling the requirement of the kessubah which last checked 200 zuzim must be payed to the wife. By todays standards that is anywhere between $2,000-$16,000. With a weak dollar at hand that is even more shekels. Can a guy really affoard that times 13? Something evil is array.

    Also I guess reading the same article over and over again is a bore.

    It needs to be dealt with though so I can agree with you that this is a problem just so everyones clear I aint down with this!

  • Once again I agree with you 100%. Fale Messiah made it on the Forward’s top 50 Jews. I think you are in better shape the he is to. His life must be the most depressing angry pile of something smell since the people who believed Shabbtai Tzvi was Moshiach. I cant imaging dedicating that much of my life to writing things to are angry and make people want to kill you.

    So yes. Tame indeed.

  • The thing is that you took an article about some douche bag getting divorced 11 times and turned it into what seems like a harangue against traditional Judaism. We don’t even know what this asshole’s level or practice is!

    In Israel, I’ve come across good people who advocate on behalf of agunot. Their efforts successfully foster unity across the religious/secular spectrum and this unity makes their advocacy that much more effective. This is the approach that will ultimately prove most effective – not an approach that immediately alienates anyone who is a practicing Jew. For the record, I found your tone alienating.

  • It’s good to be a man.

    Or perhaps, either:

    1. It’s stupid to be a woman


    2. it’s terrible to be the victim of a conniving low-life, no matter what the gender of the victim or the low-life.

  • Sorry about the alienating tone, ck. I am angry that nothing has changed over all these years. Not a thing. We were discussing this 5 years ago and nothing is different now.

    For the record, regarding matters run by the state Rabbinate, the situation has not improved and in some cases has become worse for anybody who is not strictly observant. We’ve discussed this in the past where I pointed out that what used to be an attack on Reform and Conservative Jews would become an attack on MOs, and that is precisely what happened. It will continue to get worse and as long as these MEN have the authority of the state of Israel behind them, little good will come of it. The North American system works fine without a single rabbi or minister in a position to control laws. Those who want a religious wedding or divorce can get one and those who would rather keep it civil get to do that.

    Oh, did I mention that the same rabbis who deny women their freedom unless the man agrees had no problem approving 11 marriages to the guy in the story? The post is not about him! It is about the rabbinate that permits this to proceed. They know, sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, that this man is already seeking out his next “wife” and that after they permit him to marry her in a full blown traditional wedding, they will allow him to return in 2012 to divorce her in a full blown traditional divorce. They will do this while hundreds of women languish in agunah limbo! They will do this with the full authority of OUR religion and in Israel, with the power of the state legal apparatus giving them their authority.

    How can anybody not become red-faced in anger?

  • Oh, and I am a practicing Jew, ck…

    My first paragraph may alienate some, but it is about alienated people. I belong to a Conservative synagogue and in our city, the Orthodox rabbis who lead congregations make it a point to remain separate and aloof from the Conservative and Reform rabbis. Who is alienated? The blog writer, or entire movement within Judaism?

  • Middle gets to the heart of the matter – what I perceive as (one of) his motivation in posting on issues like this:

    in our city, the Orthodox rabbis who lead congregations make it a point to remain separate and aloof from the Conservative and Reform rabbis. Who is alienated?

    The frontal attack on Rabbinical authority – which despite all the foot-dragging, embarrassing backwardness, and corruption is still preferred by most Israelis over American-style sectarianism – does nothing to further progress. It perpetuates the cycle of mutual alienation by pressing some still-sensitive buttons of religious/traditional Israelis.

    It is perceived – correctly in many cases – as of a piece with the heavy-handed anti-Judaism agenda of Israel’s early socialist period, that has left a bitter taste in observant people’s mouths, and forms the template for political struggle here.

    (and please spare me your regular bon mot about how the socialists created the state – a remark that shows ignorance or indifference to the anti-democratic effect of lingering socialist oligarchy. And a remark that confirms to Israeli ears that you’ve allied yourself with those who really aren’t “practicing Jews” – but who use fancy words like “pluralism” and “tolerance” to cover their agenda.)

    It puts the moderates and MO on the spot, and strengthens the “wagons in a circle” mentality.

  • Look TM, I don’t want to rehash the whole sectarianism thing you feel compelled to revisit over and over again. Israel is not the United States and, I’m sorry but Conservative and Reform Judaism have not made any significant impact here. You and your uh, co-denominationalists are welcome, nay strongly encouraged to move here and have your voices heard.

    Rabbinic Judaism is not perfect in Israel. Orthodoxy has it’s fair share of problems – but if you want to make any progress, if you want to be productive, alienating your best allies – those that are firmly committed to and part of the system – is simply not a good idea. You don’t want to make it look like you’re more into dumping on Orthodox Rabbis and Traditional Judaism to actually helping agunot, do you?

    So yeah, I’d try a different track there bucko.

  • ck, you’re purposely avoiding the fact that it doesn’t matter whether I’m nice about it or not and whether you’re nice about it or not. Demographics won’t change things one bit as well, since the role of the rabbinate in Israel has been part of the political agreement between the state and the Rabbinate since the founding of the state.

    Nothing is changing and my “allies” are slowly but surely being pushed out of the game. Remember when an American Orthodox rabbi could convert a gentile to Judaism and have it automatically accepted by Israel’s rabbinical authorities? No more.

  • Why revisit this over-exaggerated subject?

    Statistics Dispel Claims of ‘Thousands of Israeli Agunot’
    A new survey of unresolved divorce cases before the nation’s rabbinical courts reveals that there are a total of 69 agunot in the State of Israel. It is a far cry from the “thousands” of agunot claimed by National Religious Party Knesset Member Zevulun Orlev and many activist groups focused on the issue.

    By the same token, another possibly surprising statistic revealed in the rabbinical court study shows that there are slightly more men whose wives have refused to grant them a divorce – 190, or about 20% of the unresolved cases.

  • OK. Good. So alienate us. Awesome. Good job TM. The agunot, all of whom respect traditional Judaism, and all of those who are religious and continue to clamor for change thank you as well. Bravo.

    BTW, 69 Agunot in Israel and who knows how many in the Diasporah is 69 too many.

    • The agunot do thank me. Many of those who clamor for change thank me, in large measure because I’ve said things with which they agree.

      I can only wish I could actually help them or do something other than write about it.

      I don’t believe there are thousands of agunot and I don’t believe there are 69 agunot in Israel. There are probably hundreds of agunot out there. There are also those women who are not even trying a divorce for fear of the outcome of the process. There are also all those women who aren’t agunot because their families paid a substantial sum of money or they gave in to other demands by the husband. The husband wouldn’t have this leverage over the women if it weren’t for this situation – a divorce would proceed with both parties on relatively equal footing.

      ck, you’re alienated because I criticized halacha, because I criticized an unfair process run by the Rabbinate or because I pointed out contentious issues that we’ve debated on Jewlicious in the past where the divergence of views is significant? Or was it my tone? Don’t be alienated. I try not to be alienated when somebody claims that my life is one big affront to Judaism because I understand where they are coming from, even if I reject their claim.

  • TM, I have railed against the Rabbanut. Remember? Let me remind you. I did it here or here (notable use of limp dick analogy) or here. And quite forcefully. There’s no divergence of views. On this issue. But there is clearly a divergence of opinion on other issues and you made it a point to bring those up in a rather aggressive manner. Do you really want to bundle agunot with your North American Jewish issues? Do you think it’s going to help the cause of agunot? You can wrest control over all civil matters from the Rabbanut and it’s still not going to help agunot who are for the most part religious women. See what I’m saying? A hypothetical non-religious civil court in Israel can grant them a divorce but until they get a Rabbinically sanctioned divorce, they won’t remarry or have kids. See what I mean? Totally not helpful. It’s easy for Orthodox Rabbis to dismiss the voices of Conservative, Reform, Liberal and secular Jews. Their opinions have no standing AT ALL. It’s less easy to dismiss the rising voices of their own daughters, sons, co-denominationalists and Yeshiva students. That’s where effective reform will come from. And you can choose to be respectful of these voices and join them or you can do what you did and self righteously alienate them. It’s your call.

  • The matter of agunot is bundled with a number of other topics that disturb me. Yes. And these aren’t my issues, they are issues that affect many different groups in the Jewish community. And these issues share some common elements, such as, for example, matriarchal lineage and its relevance to the question of who is a Jew. That isn’t a North American issue and it isn’t “my” issue either. My mother was born Jewish.

    What that topic shares with the topic of agunot, and the topic of a man who can marry and divorce (causing harm, let’s not forget) eleven times, without borders of any sort because this could happen in Kazakhstan, Israel, Iraq or Canada, is rabbinic control and approval of a status quo that affects people and their lives in harmful ways.

    So now that we’ve demolished the myth of North American vs. Israel claims that have been made here, let’s address other issues. As you may know, some Conservative Jews actually have some respect for Jewish traditions and live their lives accordingly. They, too, are often married by rabbis – really well-trained and knowledgeable rabbis who come from schools acknowledged to have some of the finest Jewish minds of the last century teaching there – and are divorced by rabbis when their faith dictates so. They are also affected by the agunah problem, even if they have no standing AT ALL with Orthodox rabbis (who also give little standing to MO rabbis, these days).

    Therefore, the issue of agunot is not strictly an Orthodox one, even if the majority of those affected might be Orthodox women.

    So there goes that argument.

    But let’s say, for the sake of trying to assuage your hurt and alienated feelings – and I do apologize that you are hurt and alienated by a post such as this, but I do not apologize for its contents – that only Orthodox women and men are affected by the agunah issue and that anything else I’ve raised in this post is irrelevant to the topic. Your assumption is that Orthodox rabbis will not dismiss the rising voices of their own and therefore anybody else speaking out against this shameful custom, should attempt to do it from within. I am wasting my time here, apparently, because I am not a yeshiva student or the daughter of a rabbi.

    Perhaps you are right. But I don’t exactly buy it and I’ll tell you why. One day, a young Orthodox woman might come across this blog, or she might be a Conservative woman. She will read this post and it will serve as an alert to an inherently unfair custom in Jewish life that could directly affect her life if she marries according to our traditions. Maybe because she’s read this post, she will ask for a “get” pre-nuptial from her Orthodox rabbi. Maybe she’ll marry in a civil ceremony instead. Maybe.

    And maybe a rabbi, an Orthodox one, will read this post, and will say to himself, “Instead of being angry at this writer who clearly wants to alienate me, I will look behind his anger and try to understand his point.” Then when he reviews the post, he’ll conclude that he can’t change halacha, but just maybe he can change the rabbis’ interpretations of halacha in a way that will modify the outcome of these tragic agunah cases.


  • Middle:
    The matter of agunot is bundled with a number of other topics that disturb me. Yes. And these aren’t my issues, they are issues that affect many different groups in the Jewish community. And these issues share some common elements, such as, for example, matriarchal lineage and its relevance to the question of who is a Jew. That isn’t a North American issue
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    1) The agunot issue has no connection whatsoever to matriarchal lineage. Matriarchal lineage is a non-issue for most non-Soviet Israelis.

    2) I’d be happy to hear of any Conservative Jews whose lives are impacted by Orthodox marital law as implemented by the Israeli Rabbinate (or any other Rabbinate).

    How many non-Ortho American Jews even bother to go to their Rabbi for a get of any kind when marriages unfortunately dissolve? Probably less than those 69 agunot.


    You claim to be addressing “issues that affect many different groups in the Jewish community” – but keep looping back to issues relevant only to the nordamericano sectarian divide.

    And you claim that “these issues share some common elements” – but the agunot issue has no commonality with these issues, yet you force the discussion into the grooves of the nordamericano sectarian divide.

    It all loops back to the nordamericano sectarian divide. And the attendant “progressive” condescension towards Orthodoxy – exemplified by this Muddled bit:

    One day, a young Orthodox woman might come across this blog…. And maybe a rabbi, an Orthodox one, will read this post
    – – – – – – – – – –

    Big Secret:
    Orthodox young ladies and Rabbis are not in need of you to point out the aguna problem. There are plenty of Torah-true exponents for the valid rights of women, plenty of “real” Rabbis (now don’t get all “alientated” by another sincerely held opinion…) speaking out on the situation, and offering halachic solutions.

    Plenty of Orthodox print, broadcast, and electronic media discussing the issue.

    Just not reaching the Ortho-bashing conclusion of the “enlighted”.

    And not viewing this through the prism of the nordamericano sectarian divide.

  • Figured it was time for a (religious, married) woman to chime in here. I find myself cheering for both TM and CK here, most of all b/c they are men who actually give a sh*t. So five stars for that right out of the gate.

    I think the main issue I have here (and I have at least one friend who is currently an agunah, depending on how you define the term) is that there is a fire in the kitchen of Judaism, and the vast majority of rabbanim are in the back folding laundry. Shabbat elevators, strawberry bugs, you name it – the great halakhic minds of our time are on it.

    But it seems that personal status issues and women’s issues are so very loaded and complicated that no one wants to be the first one into the halakhic sea, up to his neck in brine. The reasons given (by those being generous rather than alienating) range from fear of change to impossibility / danger of change. But I have news: The whole reason the system was built the way it was built was to allow for great and pious people to use it to enact change when our people are in danger or pain.

    The hakhamim were entrusted with the task of feeling themselves great enough to make exactly the kind of decisions they now claim they are not great enough to make. If that is so, then either Halakha has reached the end of the road, or we have the wrong gedolim. I’d like to assume the latter. If Hillel or the Rambam or the Shulhan Arukh or the Vilna Gaon had felt their shoulders too small to act, things would have crumbled long ago.

    I do not think Orthodoxy is malevolent in any way, but i do feel that it is in a crisis. If change must consistently come from the grassroots – women’s learning, for example – before the leaders reluctantly see the need and re-adjust definitions and priorities, then I am afraid there is a crisis of leadership, one which is causing great pain to many women, plus some men – kohanim come to mind.

    There may be things which can not be remedied, but I sense a foot dragging and an inflexibility / lack of consensus that I’ve never seen with the laws of shabbat or kashrut. As if the Torah Sheba’al Peh system, based on heritage, generational wisdom, and flexibility, were ossified and coded in stone for the last 150 years. What’s up with that? I fear more for Orthodoxy itself, in fact, than I even do for the agunot.

    Of course there are notable exceptions – rabbis working tirelessly on these issues at great personal risk – most of them in modern Orthodoxy, and many of themt here in Israel, and not accepted by the majority of Yeshivish Orthodox people, either here or in the US.

    Anyway – it’s something we pray for every day – to return our wise judges and advisors. But I think this may be one that God is waiting for us to pitch in on more seriously before He matches the donation.

  • Yeah, what Ben David said. Matrilineal descent is largely a non-issue here in Israel. Injecting egalitarianism into religious practice is seen as completely foreign if not outright bizarre. Reform and Conservative issues are a tiny blip in the Israeli religious experience. You haven’t even put a dent into the so called “myth of North American vs. Israel claims.”

    Your assertion that agunah issues are not predominantly a concern of Orthodox Judaism is also laughable. For sure those in the other camps bring it up all the time but I’d like to see the statistics on how many divorced Reform or secular Jews get a “get” let alone know what one is. As for our vaunted Conservative friends, many of whom lead exemplary Jewish lives btw, Taharat Ha Mishpachah is technically still on the books but you can ask any honest Conservative Rabbi and they will tell you that few of their congregants practice it.

    In fact, according to the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey, a mere 29% of Conservative Jews buy only kosher meat. Only 15% consider themselves Sabbath observant (even by Conservative standards). A 1996 JTS study noted that a majority of young Conservative-affiliated Jews polled said that it was “all right for Jews to marry people of other faiths.” Nearly three-quarters of Conservative Jews said that they consider a Jew to be anyone raised Jewish, even if his or her mother was a gentile—the official Reform position, rejected by Conservative leaders as nonhalachic. Only half of Conservative Bar and Bat Mitzvah receptions were kosher, by any standard. You really think the bulk of Conservative Jews care about the technicalities of a halachic get?

    Is it any wonder then that Rabbinic authorities dismiss this sudden concern for traditional Halacha when it comes from quarters that are perceived to be seeking to undermine it?

    This is a common and frankly lame refrain that one hears from obstinate Rabbinic authorities. Thanks for playing right into their hands.

  • Tom! This is when we could us a Catholic friend. How are your people handling the whole divorce issue. 😉

    Happy new year to you.

    Sarke, thanks for your excellent and insightful comment.

    Ben David and ck, I know two Conservative women who lost key child-bearing years of their lives because of this problem. It’s true that in both cases, these things happened over 15 years ago, but you have to wonder just how many Conservative Jews have opted out and are opting out of observance precisely because of these situations.

    And ck, religious authorities dismiss claims from other quarters because they can. Period. Take away their authority over civil matters in Israel and watch what happens. Take away the authority vested in them automatically by the patriarchal system of Orthodox observance which permits only men to be rabbis, and PRESTO suddenly women at the Wall will get equal space and agunot will cease to exist.

    It is not my bringing it up that is the problem. This problem and other problems exist. They exist in Israel and North America. They affect Orthodox and other observant Jews including Conservative Jews. They are hurting people, sometimes severely. By acquiescing or trying to work things from within the system, all you’re doing is strengthening the status quo. It is you who are “playing right into their hands.”

  • sarKE (great post!) wrote:
    …there is a fire in the kitchen of Judaism, and the vast majority of rabbanim are in the back folding laundry.
    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Here and at other points, you attribute the crisis to dithering born of misplaced humility. It’s a point well taken – “real” gedolim like Rabbi M. Feinstein acted with confidence that they had prepared themselves as much as possible for their role, and faith that the G-d who’d given them talent would guide them.

    But I think you underestimate the contribution of other factors – among them:

    The lack of a sense of the Rabbinate being a service or calling. Here in Israel, this is a natural, if undesirable, result of government support and the inevitable politicization of the Rabbinate.

    A community – and leaders – flush with incredible material plenty, caught up in considerations of pride and status. My favorite two examples:

    – the extent to which which various “holy gedolim” of the haredi world cut their opinions based on who else has “signed on” (which is exploited by the publishers of broadsides and by “askonim” to heap up stringencies).

    – the willingness of Modern Orthodox Jews to adopt modern mores, again in pursuit of status and at the expense of Torah integrity (the feeble pronouncements regarding the gay rights issue spring immediately to mind, but there are other examples).

    So: yes, a crisis of leadership. But for darker reasons than Rabbinical timidity or ignorance.

  • CK wrote:
    Matrilineal descent is largely a non-issue here in Israel. Injecting egalitarianism into religious practice is seen as completely foreign if not outright bizarre.
    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Whoa, there: pick up a copy of Makor Rishon or any other mouthpiece of Religious Zionism, and you will see lots of sincere movement – from within Torah Judaism – towards egalitarianism.

    The current landscape – in which high-level Talmud study is a widely accepted, widely available option in mainstream Orthodoxy – represents a great, and recent, change.

    It’s important to distinguish two groups that look very similar, but are in fact very different:

    – Women who consult an external cultural/ideological yardstick (feminism) and insist that Judaism change to suit it.

    – Women who sincerely seek to serve G-d using all the abilities and opportunities of their greatly changed post-industrial educational/economic circumstances.

    Not at all the same thing.
    Two women can attend the same “women’s minyan” with completely different motivations.

  • BD – The movement towards more inclusiveness for women is not based on Egalitarianism. It’s based on the notion that it is not in fact against Halacha and never was. To whatever extent women were traditionally excluded from a more active role in Judaism and Jewish study, this could be attributed to a societally prevalent attitude regarding women that had nothing to do with Torah standards and was in fact established due to foreign influences.

    TM: Agunot will cease to exist if Rabbis lose their civil authority in Israel? Are you listening to yourself? So in the Diaspora where Rabbis have no civil authority, there are no Agunot? Or prior to the establishment of the State of Israel which granted the Rabbis civil authority, there were never agunot?? Really? You may want to reframe your argument my friend.

    • Eh, there can only be agunot outside of Israel if there are Jewish communities that exist as parallel societies in conflict with civil law (in Western states, that is). If the rabbis are put above civil authority, which is a major violation of the rule that Jews should not act in a way that could lead their particular environment to think that Jews are less pious, righteous and moral (cf. Sefer Chasidim and elaborations by the Rambam) even in regards to matters where only the Jewish community is concerned, then there can be agunot outside Israel, but it remains a social travesty nonetheless.

    • No ck, I wrote, “Take away the authority vested in them automatically by the patriarchal system of Orthodox observance which permits only men to be rabbis.” I’m not referring just to Israel.

      It’s also not a realistic scenario by any measure.

      The point is that if the system wasn’t a patriarchal one, set up by men and exclusionary of women over the course of its development, then you would have a very different role or situation for women in many aspects of Judaism. I don’t think that’s debatable.

  • the discussion tends to go away from the real subject:
    how do we fix the agunah problem and get the men to comply – both those who have been issued a seruv and those who has not yet been issued one.
    i find LB (chosid in LA)’s ideas the only tachlis’dike proposal.a guy who has been issued a seruv has no respect for the beis din and is liabel to makkos ( paetch – klepp or a good trashing in the queens english)so this is the most efficient way to deal with such a guy and in many cases is just the threat of it enough to get him to comply
    as those kind of guys are very often cowards.and if LB thinks that people will not support this venture financially he is mistaken. let us get together – those of us who are real MEN and start the good work.enough of this disgrace in religious judaism of today.

  • Froylein –

    1) The vagaries of secular authority are irrelevant to a woman who chooses to live according to Halacha.

    2) The notion of Halacha being external to secular law is not a problem – it is a necessity. Judaism decides on religious sacraments, not the secular government. And most jurisdictions allow for binding arbitration and other extra-judicial processes, provided those frameworks are acceptable to all sides (or were accepted when the contract was signed).

    We just recently had an example of disastrous secular meddling in the affairs of the Jewish community in England – where a secular court inexplicably presumed to know better than the Jewish community what it means to be a Jew, and ruled that Jewish law on matrilineal descent was somehow racist.

    So – you’re letting your own feelings about “those Rabbis” color your post. With the usual generous helping of Yekkishe hubris.

    • B-D, I wonder whether you’ll ever be able to make a conclusive point without evoking an insult of some sort.

      The Sefer Chasidim and the Rambam are quite adamant about it; if Jewish mores clashes with the mores of the respective environment and sticking to the Jewish mores will make the environment think of Jews as lesser people in regards to morals or piety, then the mores of the respective environment have to be obeyed. I suppose you were sick that week they covered it in yeshiva.

      As for the London case, I take it you haven’t read up on the whole case and just got some word-of-mouth info as the court’s decision in fact was to decide whether at a state-funded school fundamental social principles of Britain can be made invalid. If that school were private, there wouldn’t have been an issue. The issue was that the school received taxpayer money but acted like an elitist private school.

      CK: The issue is that outside Israel the Beis Din wouldn’t necessarily have to wait for a get. The premises for that are quite clear as explained above.

      • Froylein: Once again, I have no idea what you’re talking about. To date, no Beis Din anywhere can issue a Get on behalf of a recalcitrant husband. Should that change? Yes. In most jurisdictions, a final decree of divorce takes a year. That should be enough time to allow for the possibility of reconciliation. Also your understanding of Rambam and the Sefer Chasidim is severely flawed. Historically, Jewish mores have often made the environment think of Jews as lesser people. Please quote exact passages – I’m curious to understand just what exactly it is you are talking about.

        • I’ll give you the exact passages later. My understanding of them isn’t flawed as the entire set of rules of “Shum” was based on them in exactly the same way of interpretation. Also, you seem to misread me, and I hope it’s not on purpose. The rules do not pertain to what the environment chooses to think of Jews based on pre-conceived anti-Judaistic or anti-Semitic notions but to how Jews should act in their particular environments. There’s a world of a difference between that.

          Rabbinical courts could therefore act differently if they really took their options into consideration.

  • TM wrote: “The point is that if the system wasn’t a patriarchal one, set up by men and exclusionary of women over the course of its development, then you would have a very different role or situation for women in many aspects of Judaism. I don’t think that’s debatable.”

    Of course its debatable. You’re suggesting that Orthodox Judaism reform itself? I think that traditional Judaism is constantly evolving, but calls from outside its purview will never be heeded. Much more effective are the voices of those within the system, both male and female, calling for change. Your desire to make Orthodox Judaism more egalitarian in the hopes of helping Agunot is uhm, admirable, but it’s not going to be very effective. If what you want to do is really and truly help Agunot, your best bet is to ally yourself with and not alienate yourself from the many Orthodox voices clamoring for change. If what you really want to do is turn traditional Judaism into something akin to US style Conservative Judaism, then of course you won’t find many within the Orthodox community who will support you.

    froylein: I have no idea what you are talking about. Of course agunot exist outside of Israel. And the situation has nothing to do with civil society. Religious women can be granted a civil divorce and are free to remarry civilly, that has never been an issue. But if their former husbands do not grant them a Get, or a religious divorce, they, of their own accord, will not remarry or have children. See the situation? It’s not an issue of civil authority. It’s an issue within traditional Judaism. No Orthodox Rabbi will marry a woman who does not have a Get from her previous husband. No civil authority can compel an Orthodox Rabbi to perform such a ceremony. In Israel an Aguna who doesn’t care about Rabbinic authority can get married in Cyprus and her marriage is recognized by the state. In most other countries, any woman with a civil divorce can be remarried, period. Again, Agunot exist because the women involved choose to bind themselves to the strictures of halachic Judaism and so the solution has to come from within halachic Judaism. Period.

  • Yeah ck, that’s why I included the proviso, “It’s also not a realistic scenario by any measure.”

    I’m actually not trying to change you or any Orthodox Jew. I am trying to change the perspective of rabbis on the issue of agunot. You might be right and maybe I will be ignored because I’m “outside” the Orthodox world. And maybe, just maybe, some wise rabbis will read and heed. And maybe, just maybe, some Orthodox women or their parents will read this before they wed and protect themselves to the best of their abilities.

    If you’re suggesting that the way to go about effecting change regarding this issue is to be warm and fuzzy to the rabbis who lead Orthodox life (and in Israel, civil marriage and divorce), and to try to work things from the inside, then you should realize that the odds of that happening are – in my opinion on the basis of my awareness of this issue my entire adult life – minimal at best. They need to be shaken awake.

    Bringing it to their attention that the halachic acceptance of 11 (ELEVEN!) marriages by a single man is absurd when there are hundreds or dozens of women who cannot free themselves from the shackles of their unwanted husband (except for those who give in to financial or sexual blackmail) is a good thing, David. It’s a necessary thing.

    And if they ignore those of us who aren’t Orthodox because we aren’t Orthodox, they should be ignored themselves. If you want to be useful, you might want to begin railing against Rabbinic control of civil marriage and divorce in Israel. Without that, these rabbis will soon find themselves out of power and out of authority except among their own.

    • Sigh TM. We’re on the same side when it comes to Agunot. And I rail. I rail plenty. And I use the harshest terms possible. This 11 marriages guy is a red herring. The story is irrelevant. I’m just saying, Agunot are Agunot because they believe in Rabbinic Judaism. Reform has to come from there. The Agunot issue is a halachic problem – it’s preventing the mitzvah of pru u’rvu, it’s disgracing Judaism and both those issues should take precedence over the weak shlom bayit justification that defenders of the status quo keep trotting out. However, as long as the main calls for reform come from folks outside the halachic framework, giving in on this issue will be seen as the beginning of a slippery slope. Thus the main voices for Agunah reform need to come from within Orthodoxy. And those voices need to be supported and not told that their fundamental belief system is flawed.

  • “And those voices need to be supported and not told that their fundamental belief system is flawed.”

    You mean, the way those of us who are Conservative or other non-Orthodox stream are told? Interesting idea you’ve got there, ck. 😉

    • TM: I don’t think Reform Judaism has any issue with Agunot. I don’t think most Conservative Jews see it as an issue either – a civil divorce is usually good enough. The issue is a predominantly Orthodox one. The vast majority of Agunot are Orthodox. That’s the point. Do you want to help them or use them in order to promote a broader denominational agenda?

  • I am helping them.

    Anybody who reads this post, angry or not about its presentation, is going to think about this problem and whether it can be resolved somehow.

    I don’t have a broader denominational agenda. Where did you ever get that idea?

    Do you?

    • Anyone who reads this post and is in a position to affect change is going to be alienated by your tone. And I always have a broader denominational agenda! I want to get rid of all denominations and have every Jew adopt the customs and the ways of Moroccan Jewry. That way we’ll all eat better, listen to better music, be cooler and happier and united. One nation under a schug.

      • Anyone who reads this post and is in a position to affect change and doesn’t, should not be in a position to affect change. If they’re alienated by what I’ve written but support the status quo, I suspect they are exactly the type of person who is part of the problem.

        And you know what? Being nice or friendly with them isn’t going to do a single agunah any good. I would think, however, that any astute rabbi will examine this dichotomy of a system that permits a man to give 11 women their “get” and soon be on his way to wife – and in two years also a “get” – number 12 while preventing any one of these 11 women from divorcing even once without a man’s consent, even if he is this sort of man, and will understand why I and so many others are alienated from a system that permits this. He (it has to be a “he” since women aren’t allowed to play at this level) will possibly feel alienated by my tone, but a wise rabbbi will understand perfectly where it’s coming from and why the anger is legitimate. Such a rabbi will then turn his energies on improving the situation. The kind of rabbi who can affect change but wishes to focus on my tone instead of the issue at hand is somebody who should get a different career.

        And if your claim is that there is a wall of rabbis who will use my “tone” as an excuse to prevent change, despite the severity of this issue, then why would you let those rabbis – those petulant, childish, mean-spirited, cruel, self-serving rabbis – have any control over any aspect of Jewish life?

  • Sigh. We discussed this before. Our Rabbis are scared. They see traditional Judaism falling by the wayside and the only Judaism that is thriving is that that is solidly protected from outside influences. They’re scared because so many great Rabbis perished during the Holocaust. They fear change and evolution and instead rely on humras. Since the advent of Reform Judaism, any change, any nod to modernity is greeted with complete fear and suspicion. There is suspicion of the motivations of those clamoring for change – is it leh shem shamayim? Or is it a pernicious result of increased assimilation and adoption of values, standards and morality that is foreign to Judaism.

    Thus, if you want to affect change, you have to be cautious and subtle about your approach. It’s not that Rabbis aren’t sympathetic to agunot, it’s that they fear the slippery slope effect and none feel qualified or worthy of changing a long standing tradition. Chumras are easy. Change… change is hard.

    And your tone won’t just alienate those inappropriately described “petulant, childish, mean-spirited, cruel, self-serving rabbis” but it will also alienate the very agunot you are trying to help. They live their lives faithful to their G_d and faithful to their Judaism and to their Rabbis. You can get all self righteous, indignant and angry if you want – it’s your right. But it doesn’t help any. And I know you want to help. Please contemplate that a little before lashing out again.

  • I’ll contemplate it.

    Then I’ll lash out again.

    Fear is understandable, but it’s not an excuse. Change is hard, but possible and necessary. The source of the criticism is an important one and I suspect that any agunot – god fearing and truly observant agunot – who read this won’t react as you suggest. They are praying that somehow some rabbi will listen to me and find a way to make changes.

    As for subtlety, tell that to the ticking fertility clock of these women because all that subtlety gets is more inaction and more time gone for good from their lives.

  • Froy tries to tough it out – actually casting Maimonides as a proto-Reform Jew rather than admitting her own ignorance:

    …if Jewish mores clashes with the mores of the respective environment and sticking to the Jewish mores will make the environment think of Jews as lesser people in regards to morals or piety, then the mores of the respective environment have to be obeyed.

    … nice, but you assume the Rambam would agree with you that secular marriage laws are somehow more advanced than Jewish ones. (more yekke hubris – *of course* what I consider “progressive” really is so…)

    I think he’d look at the legal/social charnel caused by 2 generations of “no fault divorce” in the West – and reach the opposite conclusion.

    And considering his documented vehement opposition to the halachic reformers of his day, he’d oppose your attempt to nose-job Judaism “for its own good” to conform to an alien value system…

    So when you write:

    I suppose you were sick that week they covered it in yeshiva.

    … at least I attended Yeshiva, girl.

    Having grown up among steely yekke types, I’ll be happy to rub your nose in your ignorance until you admit it – or shut up…

    Regarding the London case – it is the choice of the UK to fund religious schools. In so doing, it tacitly agrees to fund institutions that uphold norms that are not widely held in the UK. I daresay the many Muslim schools are enforcing misogynist practices that are much more anathema to “widely held UK values” than matrilineal descent.

    What is absurd is for the government to decide who is a member of a (implicitly private) faith group – which is what happened here.

    Most Christian sects have a doctrine of patrilineal descent. We have yet to see a challenge to such a basic standard of faith membership in publicly funded Christian schools.

    • Admit what? That I find it odd that you’d never learnt a basic principle Jews for centuries based many of their decisions on as it might inconvenience your set of beliefs? Ignorance is not disagreeing but not knowing, and that is what you represent in this case.

      It is the choice of the UK to fund non-private schools to make education available to all children. You assume misogyny is practised in Muslim schools; having lived in Britain and having had some insight into educational life there, I can assure you that even most devout British Muslims and Sikhs attend general private or non-private schools, which does not outrule parental misogyny, mind you, but a considerable number doesn’t oppose their daughters’ pursuing of higher education either.

      You make it sound as if in the London case the school was forced to admit some random student. This was not the case. The kid’s mother had converted to Judaism prior to marriage, but not in an Orthodox ceremony. The school is not an explicitly Orthodox school, just a “Jewish” school, and a conversion that is valid to most of Britain’s Jewry was therefore good enough reason for the court to decide that the child had to be admitted.

      A doctrine of patrilineal descent in Christian sects? Really? Where do you get that from? Baptism is what makes one part of the Christian community, no matter what your parents were, and even the denomination with the most extensive theology surrounding the sacraments (the Roman Catholics) acknowledges the baptism carried out by other denominations. In Germany, a large numberr of schools are officially private Christian schools (most elementary schools are), but they are free of charge, the official curricula have to be obeyed, teachers have to get their degrees from universities just like teachers at state schools (in fact, teachers might end up at either after their studies), and children of all backgrounds are admitted.

  • Ben David,

    When you take pride in having attended yeshiva and throw it in Froylein’s face, I am forced to ask how many women in your universe are permitted to attend yeshiva.

    And then, perhaps, you can elucidate why this is the case and whether you believe that there is an impact on rules such as those governing agunot, by the refusal to permit women to study as the men do?


  • Froylein –
    There is no such principle of the type you describe. The closest thing to what you are trying to peddle is “dinah d’malchuta dinah” – which relates solely to financial/tort dealings with the larger population, and is poles apart from your theory that Maimonides somehow supported wholesale adoption of alien social mores.

    Regarding Muslim misogyny, I just go by what I read in the papers. Haven’t heard of any bat mitzvah girls getting killed by their fathers to preserve family honor – and the Jewish girls get to keep their clits…

    Middle – As pointed out earlier, there are now numerous opportunities for women to learn Talmud. There are also women taking on halachic advisory positions (yo’atzot halacha) and women arguing cases before the Bet Din (to’anot).

    All of this is welcome growth FROM WITHIN Judaism, in accordance with Halacha.

    I will ignore your mention of agunot since it has already been demonstrated that this is not a Conservative issue, and you are simply soap-boxing and Ortho-bashing.

    • Then do some more reading.

      BTW, emotional parental violence is also a form of violence. The widespread anorexia among frum girls in NYC is only in part due to peer pressure.

      In many frum communities, women are still not permitted to pursue higher education. Many frum girls in NYC don’t even complete high school.

    • Ben David, it is an issue for all Jews, including Conservative Jews. As I demonstrated, I know two women who were personally affected by this law.

      As for the advances for women in Orthodox circles, that’s great. Really, it is. You know it’s not enough and I know it’s not enough, but I guess you’re pleased with the progress and if I say anything, it’s “Ortho-bashing.”

      Silence is golden. Shhhhh.

      If you want to see some Ortho-bashing, by the way, you should visit here. I assure you that you’ll reconsider your accusations quickly enough.

  • While I don’t like the tone this discussion has taken, I do find some very interesting things:

    1. Each side commenting here gets more hard line and digs in deeper as the debate progresses – just like the sides in the very issue they are discussing. Read thread from beginning and see.
    2. I’m pretty sure the Prushim, redactors of the Oral Law / fathers of Orthodoxy, wouldn’t recognize the people who claim to be guarding their tradition today… Because the hallmark of the Prushim at the time was actually flexibility and HUGE shoulders / Rosh Gadol (as in: problems need to be fixed by US and God has given us the Torah to do exactly that) as opposed to the rigid, defensive, ascetic “Haredi” positions of surrounding offshoots and cults, which seem to be once again prevailing. So in that sense, much of Orthodoxy is actually very reactionary – not conservative as is generally assumed. IRONICALLY: NOT BEING WILLING TO CHANGE IS A CHANGE FROM HALKHIC TRADITION. BUT:
    3. On the other hand, nor would the Prushim recognize the Conservative / Reform diluted versions of Judaism which have become so forgiving / flexible / porous that the continuity quotient is barely a few generations, at very best, and the religion at times unrecognizable. These movements are largely perceived as a failure because they consistently lose Jews and Judaism, even if they seem “kinder”. On keeping people Jewish and Jewishly immersed / engaged for many generations, Orthodoxy has done rather well.
    4. So now what? The question then becomes how to maintain the spirit of a living Torah, with leaders who can and will, without looking all over the place at who signed first, enact necessary, life saving, adaptive change and prevent the cruel results of the ossification of the system, WITHOUT losing the tradition, the structure of the system, the respect for the ancient and the textual, and half of the Jewish people along the way.
    5. Anyone with real answers to #4: Share!

  • Froylein still fumbling around:
    In many frum communities, women are still not permitted to pursue higher education. Many frum girls in NYC don’t even complete high school.
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    Yet here in the real world outside your fevered brain, haredi women are ENCOURAGED to pursue careers, and support their husbands in full-time Torah study…. here in Israel, career training for Haredi women (like the women-only law program my niece attended) outstrip the opportunities available to Haredi men.

    Fro – are you aware of how your last post reads like a anti-semite’s rant about New York Jews? oooooh those parasitical Jews!

    So: the deadly compound of ignorance and pride has boxed you into increasingly untenable positions. Lucky for you that individual blog threads have such a short lifetime…

    Get a clue, dearie…

  • Answering both Middle and SarKE

    Silence is not golden – nobody hear representing the O point of view has suggested brushing the aguna issue, or any other issue, under the rug. Please refrain from straw man arguments.

    And the rate of progress depends on the community’s capacity to absorb change, not on the exhortations of utopian hotheads. The previous century is strewn with the human carnage resulting from forcefully imposed social revolutions.

    Focusing specifically on women’s issues, the brakes applied by halachic caution and skepticism have allowed those pressing the feminist agenda to reveal the radical, anti-family, anti-Torah underpinnings of their seemingly innocuous claims – saving the Torah community untold grief.

    This is in distinction to Reform and Conservative movements, whose adoption of change is not a model of Torah leadership, but of capitulation to another society’s values and norms.

    Which brings us to SarKE’s great post.

    The kind of leadership we need is not necessarily about embracing change… I like your image of the broad shoulders better.

    If you believe in divinely inspired Torah and Halachic processes, then you must also believe that those tools are equal to take the measure of the modern world.

    What has happened since the Enlightenment/Industrial Revolution is that (Ashkenazi) Torah circles have lost that faith – or you could call it confidence. Observance is then a retrospective exercise – and leadership view their task as preservation/conservation rather than exploration.

    Combined with the post-Enlightenment tendency to box off religion from the public square… the result is an ennervated leadership.

    We hoped that a generation of rabbis with broad secular backgrounds of their own would have the tools to engage this new world, and ‘process’ it for the community using the tools of Halacha. That has only worked partway – here in Israel, many of these Religious Zionist rabbis have a severe inferiority complex (and real political troubles) vis-a-vis the haredi camp.

  • B-D, get a clue. I’ve got Charedi friends, plenty of them in communities across the US, Europe and Israel (in Ramat Beit Shemesh and Bnei Brak if you must know). Those women that work to support their husbands in Kollel usually do so in professions that don’t pay well and the majority of them doesn’t even get pointed out any other options other than having it that way or going OD. Their career choices are highly limited due to their lack of the education needed for many professions. Girls that get married off at ages 15 to 18 and have three kids before they turn 21 can simply not pursue quality education that lives up to the education of young women that complete their education before they start a family and / or work at the same time. Even those that provide the education usually do not live up to the standards of secular education; several of my friends are rabbis in yeshiva or seminary. I know how they get hired. I’m not going to be fooled by fancy nomenclature.

    BTW, BT is not Charedi.

    If my stating that women in NY frum (and by that I mean Charedi; it’s a Yiddish word coined and exemplified by those for who Yiddish is the mother tongue to this day) communities usually receive below average education hits a weak spot with you, I suppose it does so for good reason.

    I’ve also got friends that are beis din rabbis. You’d be amazed at some insight into what matters are taken into consideration when decisions are made. Maybe you’d even be disillusioned.

  • Froylein keeps sounding like an anti-Semite: “some of her best friends are Jewish.”

    But as least she’s backtracked from her previous claim – ungracefully, and scattering distracting sand in all directions (yes I know what “frum” means… what a pathetic attempt at maintaining the air of intellectual superiority!)

    Earlier she wrote:

    In many frum communities, women are still not permitted to pursue higher education. Many frum girls in NYC don’t even complete high school.

    Now she admits career training IS available, but sniffs at it’s “quality”.

    Well, Froy – I also have friends (and female coworkers!) from Bnei Brak, Ramat Beit Shemesh, and other communities. I also keep up with my connections in the New York frum circles I grew up in.

    I consume all the major media products of Israeli Orthodoxy – from newspapers to shabbat leaflets to radio and internet – all of which regularly feature ads by almost every Israeli university/college/teacher’s seminary/professional school describing their programs for Haredi women. In New York similar offerings from YU, Touro/Lander College, and other institutions are popular.

    So let’s just string together all the hateful bits of misinformation, shall we?

    Please cite a documented case of a girl getting married at the age of 15 – in Israel or any other frum community.

    Please cite a documented case of a frum girl’s high school in New York that does not offer a NY State Regents diploma, or an Israeli school that does not give matriculation (bagrut) certificate.

    Can you cite documented evidence that anorexia is more common among frum girls and women – compared with the general population?

    The spite you display would be revolting if your ignorance were not so laughable.

    Can you document a single hasidic court or haredi communal leader who has issued a blanket prohibition on career training for women?

    • Can you document an actual career based on a certificate worth its title in the secular world issued to a frum woman that completed her education before she got married and started a family at her own pace and worked in a profession that was not restricted to highly limited choices? And please really look into those ads and ask yourself critically whether a woman could sustain herself on one of those fancy diplomas in a real, competitive working world. There wouldn’t need to be distinct courses for Charedi females if their education was in any way comparable to those of secular or less religious competitors but it’s not.

      My comments are based on my experiences, which I happen to share with lots of frum people. The sister of a Bobover friend of mine was married off at 15, and she wasn’t the only one among her peers this happened to. Anorexia is raging among NY frum girls; turning a blind eye to the problem won’t solve it. Maybe you could drag up and sneak into a women’s restroom at a kosher restaurant to understand what I mean. Just to give one example, two years ago I accompanied a friend of mine to a kosher restaurant in one of New York’s Chasidishe neighbourhoods. The bathrooms were right adjacent to the dining hall. There was a large table occupied by several young couples with kids. Two of the women there went to throw up (you could clearly hear it) twice respectively thrice in between their meal. This is just one of many instances I’ve encountered something like this, and Chasidishe female friends of mine of already tiny figure were encouraged by their elder female relatives as well as their matchmakers to “maybe lose a few pounds” in order to be more “attractive”. I think it’s a safe bet that if you conducted a study on eating disorders in those circles, the findings would be horrifying.

      Also, please learn the difference between the quantifiers “all”, “many”, and “most”.

      And no, being critical of certain aspects of a culture doesn’t make one anti-culture.

      And yeah, I have private documents / documented conversations between Charedi communal leaders and me in which they clearly state that women need / should not get an education. When I asked two of them how that could be as Rashi’s daughters notoriously were well-educated, the unanimous answer was that those women today are not Rashi’s daughters.

  • In other words – no, Froylein doesn’t have any real evidence beyond “someone I know”. Uh-huh. Sure.

    Nor does she have the sense to shut up when faced with an actual member of the groups she’s lying about.

    The only difference between the programs for Haredim and those for other students is sex-segregated classes.

    My niece still had to pass the Israeli Bar exam, her friends still had to take the accountancy and psychology exams, and all the women who study education still have to pass the certification exam and do the student teaching. I know several women who went on to advanced degrees and are school principles and district admins.

    Similarly, the frum female programmers I work with in Israeli hi-tech have all had to prove their chops just like everyone else. They’re working in companies like Amdocs, Cisco, Microsoft, Motorola – and in the US, firms like Bell Labs and IBM actively recruit Haredim in the NY metro area because their smart and reliable workers.

    Not sure what parallel universe you’re living in, but it is scarily anti-semitic.

    And it’s just stupid to persist – you must know I will grind your nose in the sh*t you’ve been spouting.

    But pride DOES have a way of making people stupid…

    • My evidence is my experience, which is shared with many people. I’ve digitally stored conversations between Charedi rabbis and me. You are entitled to your experiences as well, but again, I talk about Charedim and not people like you.

      It is not anti-Semitic to be critical of apparent flaws within the community. It would be anti-Semitic to hold a generalising pre-conceived negative view (aka prejudices) towards the world’s Jewry as a whole. I don’t call you anti-Semitic for your often-times rudely expressed disdain for certain varieties of Judaism.

      If you had anything of substance to say, you’d refrain from insults and aggression.

  • In other words you don’t have an answer.
    And are too proud to retract your hateful know-nothing statements.

    To recap:

    The Things Froylein Got Wrong
    (for brevity, this list is limited to errors in the current thread)

    Haredi girls DO NOT get married at age 15

    They DO NOT suffer substandard education – they overwhelmingly receive high school diplomas that prepare them for higher educational opportunities.

    They ARE NOT prohibited from pursuing careers or higher education.

    There IS a variety of “quality” career training paths available to haredi women, around the world.

    These training options ARE NOT limited to traditional women’s professions.

    Haredi women DO NOT suffer from anorexia in alarmingly high numbers – certainly not compared with the numbers in secular society.

    • I do have an answer, but you would get insulting anyway. My experiences are not singular ones, they are shared by many people. Your claim regarding education is hardly convincing if even NY heads of schools admit that their curricula offer no more than the two hours of “secular subjects” per week that are required to receive public grants. This compares to at least 30 lessons of secular studies per week at public schools. To claim that anorexia isn’t raging among those girls in NY is turning a blind eye to a problem that is causing infertility, still birth, innate defects and possibly death of the girl even. Those things happen a lot, and if you cared about those girls rather about a nostalgic image, you would at least consider the possibility. I could go on and on, but you’d just get insulting again. On each and any thread, for brevity, my “errors” were “rebuked” by your insults, not by substance, or claims and conclusions so absurd they made not only me cringe. I’m not a proud person, but I won’t let myself get insulted. I find your lack of manners striking for somebody who considers himself socially and ethically superior to me.

  • You keep coming up with whoppers… if you think a New York Public School offers better education than a private Jewish day school, I think you should visit New York more often!

    Send me your postal address and I’ll forward this weeks Israeli papers to you – so you can review the advertisements for Haredi college and career programs.

    And the articles that describe the REAL scope of anorexia and other problems in the haredi world.

    Cite some statistics. You don’t because there aren’t any that support your out-of-a-hat claims. You’ve been disproven on every demonstrable point so far.

    It’s not an insult to call someone on the facts.

  • You keep coming up with whoppers… if you think a New York Public School offers better education than a private Jewish day school, I think you should visit New York more often!

    Send me your postal address and I’ll forward this weeks Israeli papers to you – so you can review the advertisements for Haredi college and career programs.

    And the articles that describe the REAL scope of anorexia and other problems in the haredi world.

    Cite some statistics. You don’t because there aren’t any that support your out-of-a-hat claims. You’ve been disproven on every demonstrable point so far.

    Now you take the last refuge of the modern intellectual charlatan – claiming I’ve *insulted* you. When it’s you who’ve insulted an entire community.

    Sorry – when someone sets themselves up as a self-proclaimed “expert” it’s no insult to call them on the facts.

    • I said I’m talking about my experiences. And I do visit Brooklyn every couple of weeks. I’ve seen the ads for Charedi college programmes online as they appear as sponsors on various websites (even checked out the websites of several institutions) and was somewhat amused. Also, please don’t allege claims I haven’t made. I was talking about the curricula at Charedi schools (not just plain “Jewish day schools”), that offer and require two lessons of “secular studies” per week in NY. Those two lessons typically are English, basic maths or some biology. This compares to at least 30 lessons of “secular studies” at an average public school. You appear to assume that secular students inevitably are poorer performers academically than Jewish students. There might be some truth to that, but since Charedi schools in NY do not usually hire teachers more qualified than teachers at secular schools (to the contrary according to my experiences and those of my Charedi friends with kids of high-school age), the effects might somewhat balance each other and that still leaves NY Charedi schools offering 6.66% of the secular education public schools do.

      You haven’t disproved me but reported on your experiences that I could identify as experiences not made among Charedim in New York (that I do hang out with every couple of weeks – not just look at at a distance).

      I haven’t insulted an entire community as I outlined what I was talking about from the start. You chose to ignore that as much as you all of a sudden tried to act as a spokesperson of a group you’re obviously far less involved with than I am.

      If you cannot see how you have used insults above, then your education is clearly lacking and it reflects worse on Orthodoxy than any of my pieces of criticism of the Charedi world ever could.

  • She’s still digging:
    I was talking about the curricula at Charedi schools (not just plain “Jewish day schools”), that offer and require two lessons of “secular studies” per week in NY.
    – – – – – – – –
    What school would that be?

    It’s a trick question, since by law they are not allowed to do this… so I’m pretty confident there is no such school in New York. Maybe New Jersey, but that’s Jersey for ya.

    You appear to assume that secular students inevitably are poorer performers academically than Jewish students.
    – – – – – – – – –
    You obviously have not heard yet about the decades-long flight of middle-class students from New York public schools. You should try googling phrases like “white flight” and “charter schools” for some background.

    You will then understand why your original comparison between (underperforming) NY public schools and Yeshivas was such a howler.

    I’m sure students in the many non-sectarian private schools perform admirably.

    When someone sets themselves up as a self-proclaimed “expert” it’s no insult to call them on the facts.

  • I know how to use the word secular.

    As in this example:

    So Froylein, where’s the yeshiva with just 2 hours of secular studies you were lying about?

    • I wasn’t lying about any yeshiva as little as I was lying about the low requirement for public grants. Do you need the phone number of the rosh yeshive? Or should I rather tape a video interview next time I’m over there?