When I first heard that one of the “New Parties on the Block” to run in Israeli Knesset Elections is of Chareidi women, בזכותן Bizchutan, all I could think was “oxymoron.” There’s an inherent impossibility in the term.
Chareidi women who want to run for political office don’t suit the full definition of “chareidi.” It just can’t happen. Chareidi is more than just a way of observing Judaism’s mitzvot, commandments. It’s accepting a certain life-style and customs. It’s being part of a strict social inflexible structure, which may be a bit more liberal (with a small “L”) at home within the confines of family, but in the public realm there’s very little leeway.
I remember watching the press conference a few weeks ago with Arye Deri and Rav Ovadia’s very accomplished daughter, Adina Bar-Shalom, when she announced that although she had been offered all sorts of offers to be in safe spots on Knesset lists, she was sticking with Shas and making do with joining Yaffa Deri on a new “Women’s Council.”
Therefore, I’m not at all surprised that the public leadership of the women’s chareidi party are beginning to feel the pressure of their society against them in offers they can’t refuse.
“Be careful – the ones who become muktzeh here aren’t hareidi women, it’s you who will be muktzeh because the hareidi society will excommunicate you, because the hareidi society will not receive your sons, it won’t accept shiduchim (arranged marriages – ed.),” he warned.
Halbertal continued “you will be muktzeh there in the hareidi society. On the personal level I say to you, think twice about what you’re doing to your family and also the other hareidi women there, you will be excommunicated for generations. They will denunciate you all, and rightly so, from the hareidi community.”
The threats echo similar threats of excommunication from the hareidi school systems made last month by United Torah Judaism party activists against hareidi women who campaigned to have female representation in the hareidi parties. (Arutz 7)
Their families must decide whether they really want the pressure and rejection, because if they do, then they aren’t really chareidi, are they?