Saturday, December 17, 2011

Taliban nation?

Yes. This is how they describe the events that are transforming Israel, the country I was born and raised in, into another Afghanistan, or Iran.

There is the phenomenon of Israeli women who cover their heads and faces with borkas like cover called "schal." There is the phenomenon called "exclusion of women," were women are forced to be separated from man in any public place. This is not exclusive only to the Haredi society, but it is creeping into the day to day lives of secular Israel, such as segregating women in to the back of buses. It is taking over even the Military. In acts of politically correct, or maybe I should say "religiously correct," the exclude women from singing in front of man soldiers. The Haredi community is eager to force Israel to become a halacha nation.

I rely here on Chaim Elbom's article in YNET:

How did this Minhag of "segregation of women" came about? Well, we don't have to go far. it is right there in the Shachrit prayer in the Siddur: ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו מלך העולם שלא עשני אשה --"Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, for not having made me a woman." Not withstanding the many "different" excuses, who can or cannot explain this "blessing," the bottom line is that this is not written in the Torah. Maybe at the time this prayer was constructed this "blessing" was the conventional thinking, but, today, it does not fit at all.

What is hard to understand is how today women, Haredi as they are can let this go unheeded, or why modern Rabbis are not willing to change this prayer. It is hard for those who do not live in Israel and do not experience the changes concerning the status of women, to feel the frightening connection between the words and the deeds.

What can be expected from a kid who grows in this society? How does chanting this blessing every morning effects his relationship with women? How Will he treat his wife? How would he treat his sister? How Will a boss promote a woman worker? And how does this "blessing" effect women who grow into it?

Sadly, the "blessing" "...not having made me a woman" is the source of all these new diseases who are threatening to engulf us with "Exclusion of women." It started with raising the Mechitza in the synagogue, it continued with removing the screen, and ended with changing it from a cloth mechitza to a sealed wooden one. It gotten worse when they started separating boys and girls in the youth groups of the modern Orthodox. The women in Jerusalem were moved to the back of the bus, and there is a push to repeat it in other cities. women were forbidden to wear strong pastel colors, they were not allowed to sing with men around, and were not allowed to speak in public in some Haredi circle. from there, to the "Taliban women" phenomenon it was a short walk.

We are exhorted to love the Gerim. Not to cause them sorrows, because we were also Grim in Egypt. But what about our women, what about ourselves?

I suggest to all of us who pray Shachrit from the Siddur to drop this "blessing" from our prayer. It has no place in Judaism that honors its women. Let's not wait until the rabbis will wake up and change this "blessing." By excluding this blessing we can show that we are not contributing to transform our Judaism from a love your neighbor religion to a Taliban nation.