Regarding the article thing about woman [sic] and breast cancer, that’s a sobering statistic. Of course it has nothing to do with what I wrote.

In his Mishpacha article, Sruli Besser reflects on his experience on “the other side of the mechitza” during his daughter’s Bais Yaakov graduation. Among the many rebuttals of his piece, which praises Jewish women for being pious and suffering subpar conditions in silence, several people noted that Haredi society’s negligence of women’s needs leads, among other things, to higher rates of breast cancer deaths in the community. According to Israeli studies, Haredi women die 30% more often from breast cancer than women in the general population.

Besser insists this has nothing to do with his jolting experience of what it’s like to be on the women’s side of the mechitza.

But it has everything to do with it.

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If a man cannot look at a woman and say ‘What a healthy and handsome woman the Almighty has created,’ then I do not know what is happening to us. And I fear that if this continues, we will have to veil our faces.

These are not my words (though I’ve said them in these pages before), these are the words of Rabbanit Adina Bar Shalom, daughter of Rav Ovadia Yosef a’h. Speaking at a conference, she said she was “greatly ashamed” that the Shas publication “Day to Day” ran a photograph of the newly elected government with the faces of female ministers blurred out.

The 34th Government of Israel

She recalled her father reacting with shock and anger after seeing a family photo published with the faces of his wife and mother blurred out.  “What nerve — neither of them are alive anymore, what is this supposed to be?…Ultimately, they’ll all be in veils.”
It wasn’t just the Shas publication, but other Charedi papers who also censored the three women in the photo. Some chose to blur, others went so far as to actually remove them and to photoshop men closer together to fill the space, as if the women actually did not exist.

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Originally printed in the Metro magazine of the Jerusalem Post

Females are increasingly absent or outright removed from advertising throughout the haredi community – and progressively, among the national-religious community as well. ‘Metro’ explores the deeper issues, and the radicalization of influential factions within the ultra-Orthodox sector – throughout Beit Shemesh, the country and the greater Jewish world

Imagine a world without women. No mothers or daughters. No female doctors, MKs, teachers or even real estate agents. No girls swinging on playgrounds or young women going to school.

Open one of the numerous pamphlets or magazines in towns around the world with large haredi communities – from Bnei Brak to Lakewood, New Jersey, from Betar Illit to London – and that is what you will find. Even the magazines created for women, like Mishpacha and Bina, have no women or girls in them.

This phenomenon has also come to the town of Beit Shemesh, where, in addition to many haredim and traditional Israelis, there lives a vibrant, Zionistic immigrant population. Recently a group of such residents, concerned with the increasing radicalization of the town as seen in the women-free pamphlets in certain areas and some “women to the back” bus lines, decided to take action – and found more than they bargained for. Continue reading