Volume 53 Number 28
                    Produced: Wed Dec 20 22:02:17 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

List Priorities (2)
         [Meir Shinnar, Sarah Beck]
way to go Jeanette!
         [Shani Thon]
We women need all the help we can get
         [Jeanette Friedman]


From: Meir Shinnar <chidekel@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 14:18:55 -0500
Subject: Re: List Priorities

>(b) The woman beaten on a bus in Yerushalayim.  Is there a single
>member of this list who justifies it?  Can anything written here have
>any relevance, other than noting, for the umpteenth time, that things
>are done in the name of religion for which any religious person hangs
>his head in shame?

While I am sure that all the members of mail jewish hangs their head in
shame, it should be noted that the rise of separate sex buses is a very
recent phenomena, putatively endorsed by the "gdolim", but, to the best
of my knowledge (perhaps REMT knows better), this and other recent
incidents related to these buses have not been condemned by those same
gdolim and the leaders of the community in which it occured.  This is
not to say that they endorse it ( hooliganism is rarely endorsed), but
it is, at the least tolerated - if not even more.  ((One can easily
think of multiple actions that hooligans could have taken that would
have resulted in a swift, public response from the communal leadership -
and the lack of such a response is deafening)

The real question is the extent to which people who are not members of
the community can influence it.  However, shtika kehoda'a - and not
discussing it will mean that nothing will happen - and that is a
halachic issue.

One suggestion -power of the purse is one (the next meshulach ask about
the response of his organization ...)  

Meir Shinnar

From: Sarah Beck <beckse@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 13:04:31 -0500
Subject: List Priorities

If listmembers are interested in dikduk or hilchot shabbat, they should,
by all means, post on that. But it does seem that in the five-ish years
I've been a member, the list has become increasingly focused on the
concrete, on matters of fact. The [most recent] discussion on
homosexuality, for instance, was an interesting change from the usual
minutiae. The welcome message (
http://www.mail-jewish.org/MJwelcome.html#Purpose) says that the list

1. "for the purpose of discussing Jewish topics in general within an
environment where the validity of Halakha and the Halakhic process is
accepted, as well as"

2. "for the discussion of topics of Halakha."

It may be that 2 (and its relatives) has overtaken 1 in these precincts.
There's more to learn from R. Soloveitchik, zt"l, than his views on
cheese, and there's more to Yiddishkeit than what is or is not permitted
in a carmelit.

One is entitled, certainly, to take objection to Jeanette Friedman's
(that's Fried- as in peace, not Freeman's) tone, but try to hear her
message on its merits. It's a lot easier to write twenty posts on babies
in shul (on the sidewalk, in ch"v a shiva house, in a cheese cave in
Alsace) than it is to write even two paragraphs on how to help our
little boys AND girls grow up to be involved, responsible, loving
parents. (To paraphrase Jeanette on another occasion, one who goes home
to "babysit" after hashkama is not babysitting, but
parenting. Interestingly, I heard no chorus of voices against her on
that one.)

What about a discussion on fathering in Tanach? Ani hakatan, I have no
interesting passages to present--but surely someone does. (The Akeidah
is notably NOT about what happens at home, day-to-day.)

Sarah Beck  


From: Shani Thon <shanit716@...>
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2006 20:33:21 +0200
Subject: way to go Jeanette!

In response to Jeanette's recent post:

  It is time for the ladies of this list to voice some well-deserved
criticism and Jeanette brings some outstanding issues to the forefront
for a beginning.

  There have been posts about spousal and child abuse in the Jewish
community, but what is the likelihood that any male member of this list
has said "enough" of this in my community/the Jewish community as a
whole and done something positive about it? One can discuss halacha from
dawn to dark but if it is not put into practice, it is worthless.

   I have a few very clear examples and so does Jeanette---what about
this woman who was attacked on the #2 bus? How many people are standing
up with her and saying "enough"? NOT many! How many of M-J have written
to Egged and insisted that this velvet-kipah-wearing driver be fired and
the entire ability of Charedi men to determine who sits where, be
abolished. And where on earth do these Charedi hooligans get the idea
that it is their decision to determine where my place is on a public
bus?  INDEED! If a woman does not bow to them, they beat her up? I
thought they couldn't look at, let alone touch, a woman! These are pious
men? The absence of outrage from the men on this list is telling.

    I could very well be this woman. I am a senior now and I ride these
buses on a regular basis. I will sit where I want on any bus/taxi/public
seat---that is everyone's right in this world, male or female, Israel or
elsewhere. I am not a slave because I am a woman and I will not be
treated as such by a man, whether he be Charedi, "rabbi" or Chiloni.  I
have this "fetish thing" called "I pay for my ride" as opposed to those
who get on the back and do not pay! It is very unsafe for a senior to
disembark from the back of any bus as there have been many a person
slammed by a door or stampeded by others because the driver cannot see
as well as he can in the front of a bus. Further, most buses have signs
that the front seats are to be given to seniors and handicapped, not
selfish Charedi men. I have had similar situations as this woman on the
#1 and #2 bus and the Superbus which services my community and others
between Kiryat Sefer (Modiin Illit) and either Bnei Brak or Y---m. I
have also sat at a bus stop in Geula when a young Charedi teenager
approached, shaking his fist and telling me I have to move so HE can sit
down!  NO Charedi man has EVER stood to give me, a pregnant woman or any
other woman a seat on a bus. I strongly feel that this behavior
therefore goes beyond this insanity of men have to be in front because
they are too weak to keep their eyes off the women (which is what the
Charedim et al give as an excuse for this narishkeit), however, they
have no problem watching women on the streets OR bumping into us. Guess
that means that soon there will be a woman's side and a man's side to a
street with a mechitzah down the middle!!!! (The next chumrah of the
week?) This is simply a basic lack of respect for women and elders which
is far too prevalent in the Jewish community. And this makes these men
so pious, so much better than everyone else? What is being taught here?
Not REAL Judaism. This is a component of the disease called "glatter
than thou".

   I do not carry a gun or a big stick, so any man who comes close
enough to me with a snarl on his face, a raised voice demanding
something he has NO right to demand and/or a fist raised is a threat to
my survival and therefore will pay the price for coming within range of
my knee. It is called self-defense! Has NOTHING to do with halacha. I
suppose those who are so "frummed out" about leaving babies in the
street on Shabbos will disagree. Halacha is fine when a man decides it
is to his advantage, but where is the halacha when he hits a woman?

   As far as carrying babies on Shabbat, come to an Israeli community on
Shabbat when the eruv is down and you will see every Israeli pushing
carriages, carrying babies, taleisim and food----Why? because after
being raised in an eruv environment, they have not a CLUE that there is
something wrong with what they are doing.  I would also like to suggest
that US communities with a long-standing eruv keep the eruv down once in
a while to stimulate learning the benefits and detriments of an eruv.

    It is my opinion that since the Jewish world allows "rabbis" who
give unsuspecting people "holy water" to drink for a refuah for a
handsome fee, which allows blatant kashruth infractions, which brushes
real issues under the carpet, which perpetuates the plight of agunahs,
which allows the Disengagement, which allows the Neturei Karta to exist
in their communities, which teaches children that it is more important
to the selection of their future mate to have white vs blue shirts and
white vs colored Shabbos tablecloths, and a host of other major
issues----indeed, where IS the discussion? And more important, why are
we not doing something about these issues? And why, when a woman brings
these issues to this forum for discussion, is she told if she doesn't
like the forum, she can go elsewhere? And why are her concerns ignored?
Maybe it needs a woman saying these issues are just as important as
dikduk. And who is going to act on these issues if not us?

    And I do not consider myself a feminist!

     Shani Thon


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2006 09:26:39 EST
Subject: We women need all the help we can get

Dear everyone on this list: I need your help and advice.

In the aftermath of the Neturei Karta fiasco, plus the
cancellation of the agunah conference in Jerusalem and the speech at the
Agudah convention...plus The Shalom Bayis record from [...],
and the new pilegesh hechsher in jerusalem..Dayenu....

Some of you know me, some of you don't. My name is Jeanette Friedman and
I am a journalist, a Jew, a former agunah and I would describe myself as
an activist in search of righteousness in judaism. Grandiose notion,
perhaps, but I have had enough of the system. Hence this letter.

Ever since the cancellation of the agunah conference in Jerusalem, it is
clear that there needs to be some kind of action to stand up to the
powers that be and demand justice for agunot and the victims of domestic
and other violence in the Jewish community--the same justice we as Jews
want for other oppressed peoples.Because of the havoc wreaked by the way
agunot are treated and because we sweep criminal behavior against our
friends and children under the rug, we are witnessing a moral meltdown
in our religious leaders. In the age of Ahmadenijad, this is hardly what
is needed, and extremely dangerous to us as a people.

The system needs to teach our daughters about the risks they take when
they step under the chuppah. They are taking their lives in their hands
and need to know how to protect themselves. The system needs to allow
women to get their gets without extortion and blackmail, especially in
cases involving domestic violence. We have to convince the rabbis to
stop sweeping things under the rug, to force teachers in the yeshivot
and day schools to be mandatory reporters, just as they are in the
secular schools--to fix the system because it's obviously broken..and we
cannot allow the response to be that there is no problem. The speech
made at the Agudah convention only made things worse. Running from
responsibility and putting lives at risk is not an option. One batterer,
recalcitrant husband and child abuser can damage generations. One child
molester damages hundreds of children in his/her lifetime.

If we can put a broad coalition of men and women together, working with
rabbis who really care, women's organizations that understand and women,
women from every walk of Jewish life, including our Ultra-O and chareidi
cousins, to join us in these efforts, we may create change.Perhaps if
thousands gather, we can force a change. (we can dream, can't we?)

Can we bring everyone together on a Sunday after Pesach sometime, in a
park in Manhattan, preferably Battery Park, near the Holocaust museum
and accessible to the subways, the ferry and parking...(as well as being
a short walk to the front of the building where the Agudah is
located...but we aren't going there, are we?  :-) )...

Word of mouth will be the most critical and important method of info
transmission. Fliers and email, radio and newspapers can be used on a
weekly basis to get another version of the message out. Some of them
would ask women to approach agunot and aguns they know and offer them
moral support and to spread the word. school teachers in the girls'
schools need to be informed by word of mouth..other fliers would lay out
the basics, one point a week....we need to do an email blitz and get
people buzzing, a real underground grassroots uprising that attracts the
attention of the secular and Jewish media is what may give them a wake
up call....

Any help, ideas, and ways to make this thing happen would be greatly
appreciated. We need someone who knows how to get a park permit post
9-11 and that would mean convincing Mayor Bloomberg to get on board. The
DA's offices in Brooklyn and Manhattan should send speakers. The cops
will need to know that the women need to be protected from the crowds
and it may make sense for a number of reasons to provide everyone with a
face mask to protect them from retribution from vindictive husbands,
relatives and neighbors, and also to send the message that we are all
the same woman, suffering when our sisters and daughters and mothers
suffer. There may be NYPD security concerns about this post 9-11, but
this is, again, may not be an issue.

Your assistance in making this happen is crucial and much appreciated. I
am sure we are all fed up. Dayenu.


Jeanette Friedman


End of Volume 53 Issue 28