Rabbis Relegate Thousands To Poverty

Ha’aretz reports:

A committee of rabbis formulating the education policy in the ultra-Orthodox community has prohibited women’s continuing education programs and severely restricted other study courses, thus blocking the advancement and development of haredi women’s careers.

This is a devastating economic and professional blow to thousands of women teachers, who are the primary breadwinners in the ultra-Orthodox community. It is also a drastic regression in haredi women’s ongoing process of moving ahead in their studies and career and in improving their economic situation.

The repercussions on the teachers and the ultra-Orthodox education system are tantamount to an earthquake, as the haredi newspaper Yated Neeman called it. The issues at the heart of the ultra-Orthodox society are at stake – the limits of education, the norm requiring women to be the breadwinners while their husbands study and, above all, the authority of the rabbis and functionaries to foist restrictions on the increasingly frustrated public.…

Since the beginning of the year, all the teaching instructors and women in continuing education programs stayed home, waiting for the decision of the rabbi education panel, which only came in December. The decision banned women’s studies for academic degrees and imposed severe restrictions on other women’s studies.

For years, haredi women high-school graduates have continued their studies in teachers’ seminaries. In two years, they receive a certificate enabling them to teach in the haredi schools. Then they continue to study for a third year for a degree equivalent to B.A. and take continuing education programs specializing in certain subjects. This enables them to obtain higher teaching positions and, in turn, receive higher wages.

The new directives completely cancel the programs equivalent to B.A. studies, as well as the programs for education consultants and didactic diagnosticians, who trace learning impairments. Graduates of teacher seminaries will be able to apply for teaching certificates only after a hiatus of at least one year – to enable them to get married.

The education revolution in the ultra-Orthodox community has gathered enormous momentum in the past decade. Academic institutions and centers for professional training have opened in many fields, for both men and women. At first, the revolution was approved by the rabbis, headed by haredi leader Rabbi Yehuda Leib Steinman. But Steinman revoked his approval when the conservative groups expressed outrage at this development.

In recent years, the reforms in the continuing education programs have not pleased the rabbis, who object to women’s "academic" studies. The conservatives warned of women’s "career ambitions," fearing they would now be able to break out of the "teaching ghetto" and find other jobs than teaching. Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was quoted in Yated Neeman objecting to teachers’ enrolling in "all kinds of other education programs without any supervision of rabbis on every detail".

He warned that without close supervision and determining the content, "all manner of heresy can creep into those programs."

The rabbis were mostly infuriated by the psychological subjects in the teaching programs. Freud and Western psychology had always been a red rag to them.

The absence of ultra-Orthodox lecturers with academic degrees in diagnostics and consulting required bringing in lecturers from "outside" the community. Yated Neeman’s women’s supplement, Bayit Neeman, blasted the trend of bringing in lecturers from the "Sephardi faction" and even "completely secular" ones, warning of the women students’ defilement.…

The new decrees issued by the rabbis are most injurious to women teachers and seminar students, who have spent years studying and have invested thousands of shekels to obtain the equivalent of a B.A. Those who have graduated already have not only wasted their efforts, they may even be harmed by their education. Elyashiv has ordered not to give them priority in high school positions, where there is already a surplus of teachers. The decrees have also put several lecturers in the training centers out of a job.

Rabbi Elyashiv won’t let men work and he won’t let women get the education necessary to rise out of poverty. Why should Israeli taxpayers fund Rabbi Elyashiv’s folly? These people are poor by choice. Let haredim pay for that poverty of choice themselves. Better yet, let them leave the darkness of Yosef Shalom Elyashiv for the light.



Filed under Haredim, Israel

14 responses to “Rabbis Relegate Thousands To Poverty

  1. The Uncola

    The haaretz piece reads more like a commentary than a report. I don’t follow Israeli news so I don’t know the truth about what the rabbis are trying to accomplish, and about what this ban really means.

    The problem with the Israeli frum world are that they’re Israelis, not that they’re frum. Their passionate, crisis-toned actions and reactions to every political and cultural threat that they perceive is perfectly in sync with the manner of their hiloni counterparts. Both are crazy Israelis. So don’t use their convoluted politics as a demonstration of the ills of hareidism. The ills are those of Israeli culture, and the Chareidim there are just part of it.

  2. Ahavah bat Sarah

    What the ban really means, uncola, is that women were learning science and other secular subjects that contradict mesora/talmudic nonsense. Can’t have that, now can we? They work so hard to make sure their communities remain in medieval ignorance as much as possible. Their solution is never to admit there’s anything wrong with their traditions and practices and teachings. Their solution is always to blame “outside influences” like “unsupervised” education when people rebel against their rule and/or question their teachings. They think if they can just make the outside world go away, they can protect their hegemony – I mean, the virtue of their women, who are, after all, their property and have no right to think for themselves.

  3. The Uncola

    Dunno. The Haaretz “reporting” just doesn’t sound accurate. (that’s not to say that the Israeli chareidim don’t do silly things, but the reportage here just sounds like a lot of facts are changed or missing.)

    Be aware that Chareidi women are usually quite sharp. Nobody’s worried about some Chareidi feminist revolution because they’ll be exposed to science.

    I get the feeling that the “educational standards panel” was charged to give aproval to a religious institutional college alternative, and that they were not able to do so without (internal) political problems.

    Nobody’s trying to keep women in the dark. Just trying to accomodate a sensitive crowd. And, knowing Israeli “academics”, I can understand the Chareidi sensitivities.

    Nothing is stopping these women from obtaining valuable education from outside the failed Chareidi alternative sources. It just will be individual efforts of betterment that are not achieved through a Chareidi endorsed program.

  4. The Uncola

    By the way, everybody knows that a teaching career is not a serious economic goal for a woman who really intends to support a family. It’s for the women who want a “respectable” job. the women who are poised to help support their growing families are in other careers or business.

    So Shmarya’s criticism that women are not being allowed get the (teacher’s) education that they need to rise out of poverty is characteristically inappropriate.

  5. Anonymous

    Just FYI. Haaretz has ALWAYS been known to misquote or even make up quote from Rabbis but i get your drift, if it’s going to promote your cause why not use it as a source? It’s like using the NY Times to learn the history of the state of Israel. Totally meaningless anti Charedi.

  6. jesse

    Even the charedi websites are bashing this ruling so I think Haaretz got it right!

  7. I don’t know much about the Israeli system but I used to be close to a Chabad family who was educating its daughters. They had a nonaccredited “charedi alternative” for college that prepared them to teach mainly little kids.

    I had just earned an MLS a few years before this and thought this was awful. I wondered why the Lubavitch did not encourage their daughters to earn REAL New York State teaching licenses, good anywhere.

    Maybe this closing down of the “charedi alternative” will encourage these women to pursue their degrees at their public colleges (or whatever they call them in Israel) and get a state certified (or national. Again, this is Israel so I’m unsure of the terminology) license that will let them teach any where for better pay, or if teaching is not their thing, let them prepare for a career doing something else. If it’s a meal ticket that will let them walk out of the charedi community should they not like it, then maybe it’s time that the rabbis make sure the women like it enough to stay of their own accord.

  8. Baal Hamikhtam

    a secret (anon) contributor to this blog commented:
    “Just FYI. Haaretz has ALWAYS been known to misquote or even make up quote from Rabbis but i get your drift, if it’s going to promote your cause why not use it as a source?”

    Just FOI, we stand informed!
    capital ALWAYS,…..secretely.
    yea, yea, yea them bad us good.
    R’ Elyoshiv Ohr Lagoyim,
    Haaretz uneducated.
    Got your drift buddy.
    Alas, not too convincing.
    I prefer to join RAMBAM in his dislike of those who :
    melastemim et haberyiot. (those who torossom umonussom don’t work and swindle others).
    I bet if Rambam was to reappear, R’ Elioshiv and his deffenders would burn Rambam’s books all over again.

  9. Nigritude Ultramarine

    “Math is hard. Let’s go shopping.”

    /Teen Talk Barbie

  10. Welcome to Talibanland. But wait, Pope Elyashiv can’t enforce his medieval nonsense. His authority extends only to those who accept it. So all we need do is leave Elyashiv’s darkness for the light of real Torah, the one that teaches knowledge, not ignorance.

  11. Schneering

    You can take the haredim out of the ghetto but you can’t take the ghetto out of the haredim.

  12. frummeyid

    Someone up above pointed out that “even the Chareidi websites are bashing this ruling”. This may be the kind of cataclysm which will begin to redefine what the meaning of Chareidi is. If, for example, you get 40%, maybe 50% of chareidim saying to each other and themselves “this is insanity”, then the concept of daas torah as they understand it (infallibility) is dead. The cognitive dissonance of insisting a particular Rabbi can never be wrong and KNOWING that G-d could not really have wanted you to be poor with no possible escape will be too great to bear.

    I think we may look at this in retrospect and say this was a chapter in the end of fascist daas torah.

  13. frummeyid

    By the way, i doubt they would burn the Rambam’s books. They would just ignore him, as he is nisht fun unzerer (Haven’t you seen the turban in his pictures?). Sure, the Jewish Observor would run a few front cover articles, perhaps titled “Moshe, Aristotle isn’t Moshe”, to keep the Ameiricans away from tarfus, but the Israeli chareidum would just ignore him.

  14. chief doofis

    Why are these people concerned with what Rabbonim say in a non Halachik setting?

    You ask your Rabbi if a chicken is kosher, what to say if you come late to Shul, etc. Let the Rabbis keep their noses out of PERSONAL MATTERS!!

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