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New York - On Feminism and Fanaticism: A Female Charedi Attorney’s Perspective

Published on: January 4, 2012 11:01 AM
By: VIN News By Ruchie (Rachel) Freier, Esq.
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IllustrationNew York - The time has come for genuine Chasidim/Charedim to shatter our insularity and show our true colors. I take umbrage at zealots, who brazenly desecrate our heritage and culture in the name of G-D.  The zealotry displayed against young Na’ama Margolese is antithetical to our beliefs and Torah values.  As a Chasidic attorney, practicing law among my fellow Chasidim, representing men and women, I can attest to the fact that the vast majority of Chasidim respect women; and that our practice of division among the genders is harmonious and congruent with our strong family values. The actions of the Sikarikim, depicted in recent news reports, spitting on girls and parading children in Nazi prison uniforms must be strongly condemned and the lifestyle of true Chasidim, must be revealed.

Chasidic women are not subjugated nor are we submissive or dictated by masculine fiat.  While we respect our tradition and primary role as wives, mothers and caretakers, we are also educated, balanced, content and often professional.  We are not degraded, yet we prefer to sit among women on public transportation.  But, in no way, does that give zealots the right to force others to conform to our standards. 

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Fanaticism is a distorted belief or behavior involving uncritical zeal, particularly for an extreme religious cause with obsessive enthusiasm. 

Charedi fanatics twist Halacha, are prejudiced and demonize anyone they oppose.  As an example, when Rav Shteinman, the illustrious Torah sage from Israel, visited New York a few years ago, he was heckled by zealots, to protest a Halachic ruling he made.  I wrote an article explaining the danger of those zealot extremists, who others considered an insignificant group to be ignored - current events prove them wrong .

Extreme zealousness is a manifestation of religious fanaticism, has eroded Jewish unity and has become a cultural infectious ideological malady infecting the Charedi world and publicly mischaracterizing us.

Since founding B’Derech in 2008, the organization dedicated to advocating for Chasidic youth, I have counseled countless adolescents and adults concerning the growing phenomenon of youth leaving the fold, frequently as a result of acts of zealotry.  Contemporary zealousness in the name of holiness has caused the banning of respected, widely read Jewish magazines, concerts by religious Jewish singers, technology, and shops, instigated sibling rivalry among leaders, restrictive admissions policies of our schools, rigorous yeshiva curriculum and the harboring of abusers and molesters.  They coerce the innocent by intimidation and manipulation, such as threats of expelling or rejecting families from shuls, children from yeshivas, or interference with shidduchim.

Secularists, argue that Judaism must rely on feminist doctrine to guarantee fair treatment of its women – I disagree.  Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal, political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.  However, for centuries preceding feminist movements, the Torah has held women in high regard.

The Torah relates that the greatness and intuitiveness of our matriarchs surpassed the patriarchs. For example, G-D told Avraham “Everything Sarah says, you should listen to her voice…” (Bereishis 21:9-13).  The boys grew up and Eisav became one who knows hunting, a man of the field, and Yaakov was a man abiding in tents.  Yitzchak loved Eisav, for venison was in his mouth; but Rivkah loved Yaakov (Bereishis 25:27-28).  When the Jews were taken into exile by the Babylonians, the patriarchs begged G-D to have mercy on His children.  It was only to the matriarch Rachel that G-D made his everlasting promise that her children will be returned to their borders and to their status of the beloved of G-D and that the enemies of Israel will never triumph (Yirmiyahu 31:14-16). 

As a volunteer court attorney in the New York City Family Court, I counsel litigants on a host of issues dealing with custody, visitation and child support.  The numerous women litigants who seek my counsel, are not from the Charedi world nor do they share our family values.  They come for help to fight for child support from multiple men who broke promises of marriage and left them bereft to raise their children alone – they are discriminated and victims, not Charedi wives and mothers raising beautiful, Torah observant families.

While, I am proud to be the wife of a devout Chasidic Talmudic scholar, mother and grandmother of a Chassidic family, I have experienced encounters with zealous ideologists which highlight the need for the silent majority to speak.

On a recent trip to Israel working with American kids at risk, rejected from American yeshivas, I was talking to one of the boys in the streets of Jerusalem.  Suddenly, a frightening figure appeared from a dark alley and began following us.  The figure resembled an executioner of the Dark Ages, dressed in a long black robe, long beard protruding from his masked face, chain around his neck and swinging what appeared to be a club in his hand.  I subsequently learned this was a member of the self-appointed, zealous guardians known as the Vaad Hatznius that patrol the streets, frequently using terror tactics.

A couple of years ago, a yeshiva opened up in Williamsburg for Chasidic boys who need more recreation and less stringency.  When zealots became aware that the Rosh Yeshiva played a musical instrument and allowed the boys physical activity, they wanted the yeshiva shut down.  They harassed the students, maligned the Rosh Yeshiva as a cult leader, and campaigned to numerous rabbis, law enforcement authorities and the courts, to order the closing of the yeshiva. When it became public that I was defending the yeshiva, I received threats.  One of my married sons was engaged at that time and a woman called me threatening to call the mechutan and break the shidduch by sharing some “secret” she claimed she knew.  I promptly told her to go right ahead and offered my assistance if she needed his phone number. 

During the formative years of the venerable Hatzolah organization, its original founders facilitated training women to serve women, primarily in cases of emergency childbirth.  By 1981 approximately 300 women were trained EMTs (75 were from Kiryas Joel and more than 200 from Brooklyn).  Shortly after the women began serving, zealous cries came from Williamsburg, accusing the women volunteers of violating tznius standards. The women EMTs were humiliated and expelled from the organization; subsequently the original founders resigned. 

The Mishpacha Family First 2/23/2011 edition featured a heartwarming story describing the saga of these modest women. The article contained a side column featuring the Women’s Division of New Square Hatzolah, established by the Rebbe four years ago, highlighting their success, professionalism and modesty. The rejected EMTs, and their supporters who tried to defend them over the past thirty years, were disparaged and silenced.  They have recently asked me to advocate on their behalf, to be permitted to serve for emergency childbirth, pursuant to Halachic authority.  If New Square Hatzolah and United Hatzalah of Israel both allow women to serve, there must be a way to do so in other religious communities.

Zealous extremists, who distort Torah values, comprise the minority of religious Charedi Jews.  In my practice as a real estate attorney, I have the privilege of representing both men and women in Brooklyn and in the upstate villages of New Square and Kiryas Joel.  I have developed business relationships based on mutual respect and have the privilege of working with Dayanim when dispute resolution is necessary; and have personally met the rebbetzins and rebbes of these communities.  Nevertheless, the majority residents and rabbis of these communities are plagued, and frequently held hostage, by self-appointed guardians, who habitually engage in terror tactics. 

We are all hurting – the silent majority has been coerced into believing that these self appointed guardians are the keepers of some sacred covenant with G-D; that they are above the law, can subjectively interpret Halacha, and are permitted to spit, stone, harass and discriminate – all in the name of modesty - tznius.  They arrogantly and blasphemously proclaim to be following the righteous Biblical zealot Pinchas the son of Elazar. Zealous fanatics need to be aware that their practices violate Halacha, secular law and the Constitution.  At some point the chaos they have created will cease, law and order will prevail, with peace and serenity restored

The Talmud relates that the merits of the patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov have ended (Shabbos 55a).  There is a discussion when the merits of our fathers ended – during the time of the prophet Hoshea, the time of King Chazael of Aram, the time of the prophet Eliyahu, or the time of King Chizkiyahu.  Tosafos comments that the patriarchs’ merits do continue, but only for the benefit of the righteous.  However, the merits of the matriarchs, Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah, remain.  These merits will never be depleted and stand at the center of our salvation.  Every time the Jewish people needed salvation, it was brought about by Jewish women.

It is well known that the Israelites were redeemed from the Egyptian exile in the merit of the righteous women.  In the two other holidays that commemorate redemption from exile, Purim and Chanukah, women also served as G-D’s messengers in the redemptive process: Queen Esther who risked her life to save the Jewish people in Shushan, heralded the Purim salvation; and Yehudis, who acted courageously and killed the enemy general Helifornos, played a leading role in the Chanukah miracle (Sefer HaMakkabim).

Because of the participation of righteous women in these three miraculous redemptions, women observe all the mitzvos of the holidays of Pesach, Purim, and Chanukah (although they are time-bound positive mitzvos from which women are generally exempt), “since they were involved in that miracle” (Pesachim 108a, Megillah 4a, Shabbos 23a).  Just as all past redemptions came through women, so too, all future redemptions from exile will be brought about by women.  The essence of the Charedi woman is not based on ideologies of feminism nor religious fanaticism; it is spiritual, cherished, and accorded divine respect and value. 

Historically, the Jewish people were not saved in battle by generals or soldiers, but by maternal strength. Another mother of Israel, Devorah the prophetess, who also judged the Jewish people modestly, counseled the general Barak to wage war, however, he worried that without her merit the Israelites would lose.  So, Devorah joined him into the battlefield, and together they defeated the enemy.  Devorah then sang a song of victory. “The inhabitants of the village ceased, they ceased in Israel.  Until I, Devorah, arose, I arose, a mother in Israel.” (Shoftim 5:7) 

We, the silent majority, must find the strength to restore G-D’s Honor – to be Mekadesh Shem Shomayim - and correct the travesty of justice.  We must battle the Sikarikim and religious fanatics who mislead prominent rabbinical leaders and intimidate the innocent to impose their subjective standards, assert power, and withhold the truth from the masses – we can win this battle.  B’Derech HaTorah Neylech.

Ruchie (Rachel) Freier, Esq. is a practicing Charedi attorney, admitted in New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia, with offices in Brooklyn and Monroe.  In 2008 she founded B’Derech, the organization advocating for Chassidic youth.  She is a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Children & the Law and New York City Family Court Attorney Volunteer Program.  She can be reached at freieresq@aol.com or 718-259-4525.



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1

 Jan 04, 2012 at 11:15 AM savta Says:

thank you Ruchie for a voice of reason. As a mother and grandmother of a yeshivish family i whole heartedly agree. Zealotry needs to be accompanied with a lack of self interest as we see in Parshat Pinchas. When it is accompanied by self interest it is actually a sin. anyone versed in Parshat Hashavua has learned this and men who are religious are supposed to be learning parsha at least three times each week Shnaim bmikroh vechad btargum.

2

 Jan 04, 2012 at 11:07 AM Anonymous Says:

Kok Hakovod to Ruchie Felder, who speaks emes in the face of mumbling and inaction by the so called askanim and gadolim of the chareidi tzibur. She isn't afraid to take on and challenge anyone who claims their behavior is grounded in daas torah. We need more women like her who demonstrate the best of what a frum jewish woman can be.

3

 Jan 04, 2012 at 11:40 AM BP MOM Says:

Thank you Ruchie! Beautiful piece!

4

 Jan 04, 2012 at 12:08 PM ILoveJews Says:

Thank you! So true and well said

5

 Jan 04, 2012 at 12:09 PM Monsey Mom Says:

Ruchie, thank you so much for the clear and honest truth, it needed to be said, and you said it very well.

6

 Jan 04, 2012 at 12:23 PM SherryTheNoahide Says:

I cried reading this! And I don't care if people make fun of me! (lol) This was an AMAZING piece & I am FLOORED beyond belief!

This woman has set the tone for modest, intelligent & religious women everywhere! She isn't speaking against halachah in the slightest (on the contrary!), and yet... makes such a strong case against the Sikrim & others who she feels are distorting what it means to be Jewish & to obey Jewish law, while living in this world & in these times.

She doesn't feel the need to be some kind of modern "Rosa Parks" to do it either, not that I take huge issue w\the other woman who chose to protest by sitting on the bus. But the wonderful lady who wrote this piece shows how to make a real case for religious women everywhere, withOUT drawing a ton of attention to herself. You can tell she wants the message to get out - but doesn't want it made about her.

Bravo! So well done! I hope this piece is plastered on top of every sign prohibiting women from walking down certain sidewalks, or handed out at every Sikrim protest!

I know those wackos say they'll never listen to people like this dear lady, but eventually the outcry will become so great... they'll have to!

7

 Jan 04, 2012 at 12:25 PM grandpajoe Says:

Baruch Hashem a clear voice - thank you thank you thank you!

8

 Jan 04, 2012 at 12:30 PM Halaivy Says:

We all try our best for kevod shomaim and statistics have shown that the ultra charedim have a smaller percentage that need bederech (a great organization) and as a chosid myself we have less then one percent dropouts in our kehilah most of them erliche yidden but don't like the strict rules of the kehilah and for that I wouldn't advocate that the 99% lower their bar so the less then 1% feel comfortable.
If we should give up our strict rules we would have much more kids going off and will not have the 99% beauty especiely by giving up the midah of the one quoted Sarah Imainu that it says Hineh Bo'ohel and as rashi explaines the reson she didn't come out was because Tznuah Hayso and would not show up were men are.
Studying (and practicing) law surely would not be allowed by the likes of rabbi Steinman.
So while you are doing great things with others it might be considered Chateh kedai sheyizkeh chaverechah which is against halachah.
If you are so right would you be allowed to preach in your chasidish shul?

9

 Jan 04, 2012 at 12:30 PM Innocent-Abroad Says:

Superb. I'm printing it out.

10

 Jan 04, 2012 at 12:31 PM WiseDude Says:

I see more and more people refer to Gedoim as "so called" Gedolim. I see it all over the place now. It seems the major consensus of our majority of frum Jews is that we are a nation of orphans, with the passing of Rav Moshe, the Steipler, Rabbi Kaminetzy, Rav Shach and others of that generation, from the Litvish. From the Chassidish, its hard to say, but in general, it seems we feel like we need leadership in a big way now.

11

 Jan 04, 2012 at 12:34 PM Sociologist Says:

Excellent!

12

 Jan 04, 2012 at 12:38 PM joshua Says:

" During the formative years of the venerable Hatzolah organization, its original founders facilitated training women to serve women, primarily in cases of emergency childbirth. By 1981 approximately 300 women were trained EMTs (75 were from Kiryas Joel and more than 200 from Brooklyn). Shortly after the women began serving, zealous cries came from Williamsburg, accusing the women volunteers of violating tznius standards. The women EMTs were humiliated and expelled from the organization; subsequently the original founders resigned."

Can someone detail this allegation and it's source? It sounds like an exaggerated bubbe maisa.

Thank You

13

 Jan 04, 2012 at 12:59 PM Ina Says:

Reply to #8  
Halaivy Says:

We all try our best for kevod shomaim and statistics have shown that the ultra charedim have a smaller percentage that need bederech (a great organization) and as a chosid myself we have less then one percent dropouts in our kehilah most of them erliche yidden but don't like the strict rules of the kehilah and for that I wouldn't advocate that the 99% lower their bar so the less then 1% feel comfortable.
If we should give up our strict rules we would have much more kids going off and will not have the 99% beauty especiely by giving up the midah of the one quoted Sarah Imainu that it says Hineh Bo'ohel and as rashi explaines the reson she didn't come out was because Tznuah Hayso and would not show up were men are.
Studying (and practicing) law surely would not be allowed by the likes of rabbi Steinman.
So while you are doing great things with others it might be considered Chateh kedai sheyizkeh chaverechah which is against halachah.
If you are so right would you be allowed to preach in your chasidish shul?

Are you so sure you only have a 1% drop out rate? There are so many disenfranchised youth owing to many different reasons. It seems to me your drop out rate is higher and growing steadily. The drop outs are even coming from good homes so, no one is immune from this and it should send shivers down your spine. Mrs. Freier is trying to make a real difference and I have such nachas from her work.

Ruchy, you have a very uphill mountain to climb but never stop because you are saving generations!

14

 Jan 04, 2012 at 12:54 PM Moshe Says:

Ruchie, your article compelled me to sign up and write my first comment after years as a reader. I am a Baal Teshuvah and have been so disgusted by what is going on. I came to Torah seeing the perfection and beauty. When our "own" tarnish it in a public way it is sickening. I have wondered where is the public outcry from our Gedolim and where is the outcry from women as any true Yiras Shamayim Jew would know are the backbone of Klal Yisroel. My wife perfectly represents this in our home/community and want to express my sincere hakoras hatov for standing up for emes. You and your family should be continually blessed.

15

 Jan 04, 2012 at 11:35 AM Anonymous Says:

YES! YES! YES! How sweet it is to hear words of truth! Being silent sends a message of approval. It's not okay anymore to just sigh and go on with our busy lives. We must defend Hashems honor and do our part to eradicate wrong and establish right. We should all be grateful for all the effort and Mesiras Nefesh Ruchie Freier puts forth to advocate for our community!

16

 Jan 04, 2012 at 01:11 PM myownopinion Says:

WOW! The "binah yeserah" given to women has made the statement we should be hearing from the Gedolim. Well said!!!
To #8, unfortunately your numbers are very off, 1% dropout was 20 years ago, today the numbers are much higher and its highest among Ultra Chasidish and Yeshivish families. We can see many times statements in the mishnah and gemora about being ultra frum. Al tyeh tzadik harbeh, the gemora in shabbos in the beginning of Mee sheheshich Bo bayom Mochku Soh, is what comes to mind now. and you should definitely read the kav haiashor, he writes a long piece on ultra frum how they are hiding a real rotten person within.

17

 Jan 04, 2012 at 01:20 PM Anonymous Says:

"Chasidic women are not subjugated nor are we submissive or dictated by masculine fiat. While we respect our tradition and primary role as wives, mothers and caretakers, we are also educated, balanced, content and often professional"

With all due respect, how many chassidic women are "educated......and often professional"? I am skeptical, to say the least. How many chassidic women even have a driver's license, let alone a basic high school educationl, to say nothing of college and graduate school? Your article is a long-overdue call for some rationality, but don't over-sell your position by injecting what is clearly not true into your argument.

18

 Jan 04, 2012 at 01:29 PM EinYid Says:

Thank You Mrs. Freier for standing up for the silent majority. The mistake we all make at times is, We think we can educate the extremists amongst us.

We cannot!

They simply refuse to be educated. As soon as you try, they will throw ten psukim at you why you are wrong... They feel so self righteous, it is pathetic that often times smart people can be this way. Common decency, and common sense simply does not matter, because they feel so right about themselves in their twisted logic.

We live in difficult times for true chareidim, but your wise and courage's words give us all hope. Please don't allow yourself to be silenced, the silent majority needs you.

Thank You again.

19

 Jan 04, 2012 at 01:39 PM MyComment Says:

Reply to #8  
Halaivy Says:

We all try our best for kevod shomaim and statistics have shown that the ultra charedim have a smaller percentage that need bederech (a great organization) and as a chosid myself we have less then one percent dropouts in our kehilah most of them erliche yidden but don't like the strict rules of the kehilah and for that I wouldn't advocate that the 99% lower their bar so the less then 1% feel comfortable.
If we should give up our strict rules we would have much more kids going off and will not have the 99% beauty especiely by giving up the midah of the one quoted Sarah Imainu that it says Hineh Bo'ohel and as rashi explaines the reson she didn't come out was because Tznuah Hayso and would not show up were men are.
Studying (and practicing) law surely would not be allowed by the likes of rabbi Steinman.
So while you are doing great things with others it might be considered Chateh kedai sheyizkeh chaverechah which is against halachah.
If you are so right would you be allowed to preach in your chasidish shul?

Sorry to inform you but I have witnessed ultra charedim who are mechalel shabbos with the complete livish. These people live double lives. One life where they have you fooled that they are observant at the same time right under your nose they lead a life in which they do what ever they want - eat treif, exercise immorality, etc. etc. So go ahead keep your head in the sand. In fact, what occurred over the passed few days in Israel proves them right at least to their distorted view of their world. At least the youth at risk are truthful to themselves and their surrounding. And if I may ask which do you think G-d prefers.

20

 Jan 04, 2012 at 01:39 PM anonymous Says:

I I was age 15 when deported to the Ghetto Lodz and 18 1/2 when liberated in Buchenwald. My mother A'H was not an attorney but a very wise lady and everyday she seems wiser. I raised observant children and was very fortunate that I married a wonderful young lady now a grandmother and our grandchidren have children. She was a legal secretary and her syntax and grammar are impeccable. I was doubly fortunate to be accepted in the house of a Belzer chasid and the Rebetzin treated me like her children, educated and the epitomy of selflessness. So women have been quite crucial to my functioning as a husband, father and grandfather. Some years ago my son's bycycle was stolen and parts later found and I had to appear with my son as a witness in the domestic/family which reveals a picture of social disintegration totally alien to the average person. I salute you and my since admiration for you

21

 Jan 04, 2012 at 01:53 PM Brooklyn Mother Says:

Reply to #8  
Halaivy Says:

We all try our best for kevod shomaim and statistics have shown that the ultra charedim have a smaller percentage that need bederech (a great organization) and as a chosid myself we have less then one percent dropouts in our kehilah most of them erliche yidden but don't like the strict rules of the kehilah and for that I wouldn't advocate that the 99% lower their bar so the less then 1% feel comfortable.
If we should give up our strict rules we would have much more kids going off and will not have the 99% beauty especiely by giving up the midah of the one quoted Sarah Imainu that it says Hineh Bo'ohel and as rashi explaines the reson she didn't come out was because Tznuah Hayso and would not show up were men are.
Studying (and practicing) law surely would not be allowed by the likes of rabbi Steinman.
So while you are doing great things with others it might be considered Chateh kedai sheyizkeh chaverechah which is against halachah.
If you are so right would you be allowed to preach in your chasidish shul?

What are you talking about? Did you ever stroll through williamsburg or boro park streets on a shabbos afternoon? Every park and every corner has under-age kids smoking pot, using their cell phones and I need not explain what else. Time for a reality check my friend.....

22

 Jan 04, 2012 at 01:54 PM Tell the truth Says:

Stop trying to make this out like it is only the Sikarikim. The problem of excess frumkeit or fanaticism is a pervasive problem in the entire community and extends in both the Litvishe and Chassidish spheres. It includes many popular Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva in Both America and Israel. It is not restricted to extremes such as spitting and violence but in many areas there is an intolerance for the other and a narrow minded close mindedness to anything different. It is all part and parcel of the Rightward shift in Orthodoxy over the past 40 years, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

23

 Jan 04, 2012 at 02:05 PM rebchuna Says:

Finally a well written article, not apologetic, rather proud of torah values

24

 Jan 04, 2012 at 02:09 PM Ben_Kol Says:

Passionate, powerful, and true.

25

 Jan 04, 2012 at 02:16 PM yossi Says:

"Chasidic women are not subjugated nor are we submissive or dictated by masculine fiat. While we respect our tradition and primary role as wives, mothers and caretakers, we are also educated, balanced, content and often professional."

How many Chasidic women, who live in chasidic communities, are "educated........and often professional"? How many of them have a high school education, to say nothing of college and graduate school. I am skeptical of your claim and think your otherwise well written and sensible article was ruined by including this obvious falsehood.

26

 Jan 04, 2012 at 02:31 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
WiseDude Says:

I see more and more people refer to Gedoim as "so called" Gedolim. I see it all over the place now. It seems the major consensus of our majority of frum Jews is that we are a nation of orphans, with the passing of Rav Moshe, the Steipler, Rabbi Kaminetzy, Rav Shach and others of that generation, from the Litvish. From the Chassidish, its hard to say, but in general, it seems we feel like we need leadership in a big way now.

Agreed...with every rebbele at all the shtieblach being called a "gadol hador" by his small but passionate group of followers, the term "gadol" has been devalued. No doubt we have lost or are about to lose the last of the "true gadolim" from the alte heim and last generation from before the war and what we have left are a mixed bag of rabbonim, poskim and wannabees.

27

 Jan 04, 2012 at 02:33 PM YJay1 Says:

Thank you Mrs. Freier for your beautiful and heartwarming words. I especially enjoyed how you wrote that we as Jews don't need any Feminism, we just need to turn to the Torah and there we can find the great respect that the Jewish Religion has for the Jewish woman. Unfortunately the "zealots" think that they get to decide what the Torah is, and just simply disregard the Shilchun Aruch, in favor of their own brand of "Halacha".

Just one question. Why did you have insert the paragraph regarding Hatzolo? The issue regarding Hatzolo is very different than all the other issues that you mentioned. While all the instances you mentioned pertain strictly to the "zealots", the Hatzolo issue has many people standing on both sides of the fence, it's not a issue of "zealotry". I've been following that story for a while, and realized that the opponents (and also the proponents!) have some very valid arguments. For instance, is Heshy Jacobs a zealot? It looks like you are pushing some agenda here!

But again, I applaud you for coming out and writing such a wonderful article. Chazak V'amotz!

28

 Jan 04, 2012 at 02:42 PM Babishka Says:

Reply to #17  
Anonymous Says:

"Chasidic women are not subjugated nor are we submissive or dictated by masculine fiat. While we respect our tradition and primary role as wives, mothers and caretakers, we are also educated, balanced, content and often professional"

With all due respect, how many chassidic women are "educated......and often professional"? I am skeptical, to say the least. How many chassidic women even have a driver's license, let alone a basic high school educationl, to say nothing of college and graduate school? Your article is a long-overdue call for some rationality, but don't over-sell your position by injecting what is clearly not true into your argument.

Well I am a Hasidic woman, I have a B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science and 20 years working as a professional in the automotive industry. My daughter is at Columbia University earning her Master's degree.

29

 Jan 04, 2012 at 03:02 PM Leah Says:

this article is a powerful argument for women going to college and getting an education. How many of the men could write such an article - most cannot even write a coherent comment.

30

 Jan 04, 2012 at 03:08 PM fradakp Says:

wonderful article.Thanks for making jewish woman proud.

31

 Jan 04, 2012 at 03:27 PM whateverworks Says:

you inspire me.
thank you

32

 Jan 04, 2012 at 04:32 PM A Says:

Reply to #22  
Tell the truth Says:

Stop trying to make this out like it is only the Sikarikim. The problem of excess frumkeit or fanaticism is a pervasive problem in the entire community and extends in both the Litvishe and Chassidish spheres. It includes many popular Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva in Both America and Israel. It is not restricted to extremes such as spitting and violence but in many areas there is an intolerance for the other and a narrow minded close mindedness to anything different. It is all part and parcel of the Rightward shift in Orthodoxy over the past 40 years, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Yes, you do tell the truth. Hopefully people are not so blinded by their personal beliefs that they do not see it.

33

 Jan 04, 2012 at 04:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Thank you for this very inspiring piece. Mostly it is fantastic. But more than a few individual Chassidim (even men and women together) "educated" and sometimes "professional" ??? That however, has been commented on already so I will go on to the one other point that I think needs clarifying:
" Zealous fanatics need to be aware that their practices violate Halacha..."
Chassidim started and Chareidim followed suit with the idea that chumra and halacha sort of blend and that if a Rebbe says it, then it must be done as if it is halacha. Who can remember anymore which is which? Fanatics, "regular" Chassidim such as yourself or "regular"non-Chassidish Chareidim have one thing in common -they don't care if something is halacha or chumra or daas Torah. They've been taught - dont look up the halacha - it is the daas Torah that matters. So what have the fanatics done wrong? They are following the daas Torah of their choice! To reinstate true "halach" as the standard, unfortunately we would have to re-educate an entire generation (and their Rabbis!) I am actually old enough to remember whehe Halacha could be dertermined by the Shulchan Aruch.

34

 Jan 04, 2012 at 04:03 PM FredE Says:

Reply to #22  
Tell the truth Says:

Stop trying to make this out like it is only the Sikarikim. The problem of excess frumkeit or fanaticism is a pervasive problem in the entire community and extends in both the Litvishe and Chassidish spheres. It includes many popular Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva in Both America and Israel. It is not restricted to extremes such as spitting and violence but in many areas there is an intolerance for the other and a narrow minded close mindedness to anything different. It is all part and parcel of the Rightward shift in Orthodoxy over the past 40 years, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

This is a very good point. This zealotry, as you call it, did not come from nowhere.
Its part of the rightward shift we've been seeing a long time. It wont stop until frum women make it clear they will not tolerate being viewed as nothing but temptresses.
Just one example... Charedi institutions almost never allow women to address men in public. There are instances of female surgeons who aren't allowed to speak at a shul kiddush or their kid's school function, because "its not done". This has to stop.
Tzinius has a place... but it simply not the case that if a little sexism is good, a lot is better.

35

 Jan 04, 2012 at 03:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #28  
Babishka Says:

Well I am a Hasidic woman, I have a B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science and 20 years working as a professional in the automotive industry. My daughter is at Columbia University earning her Master's degree.

And honestly speaking, how many women "Hasidic" women do you know like yourself or your daughter? I grew up in a fairly religious (not Chassidish) neighborhood and although almost 100 per cent of the girls in my class went to college (and there were only girls) not all graduated, many left when they got married and most got married in the first or second year. Very few ever worked in any field that required a college degree. I cannot believe the percentages are higher in a Chassidic school. Also, how do you define "Hasidic" I doubt the definition is the same as most of those reading here, and another important point - is your husband Chasidic too? Because if yes, you well know that you are probably in the less than .1 percent of typical Chasidim with regard to your education. Having said that, you should certainly be proud of your accomplishments and if there is anything you can do to encourage "typical" Chassidim to follow your career trajectory then you will be doing a big chesed.

36

 Jan 04, 2012 at 03:51 PM wondering Says:

Reply to #17  
Anonymous Says:

"Chasidic women are not subjugated nor are we submissive or dictated by masculine fiat. While we respect our tradition and primary role as wives, mothers and caretakers, we are also educated, balanced, content and often professional"

With all due respect, how many chassidic women are "educated......and often professional"? I am skeptical, to say the least. How many chassidic women even have a driver's license, let alone a basic high school educationl, to say nothing of college and graduate school? Your article is a long-overdue call for some rationality, but don't over-sell your position by injecting what is clearly not true into your argument.

Perfect response. I was trying to figure out a good way to say this but you sadi it best.

37

 Jan 04, 2012 at 03:41 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #27  
YJay1 Says:

Thank you Mrs. Freier for your beautiful and heartwarming words. I especially enjoyed how you wrote that we as Jews don't need any Feminism, we just need to turn to the Torah and there we can find the great respect that the Jewish Religion has for the Jewish woman. Unfortunately the "zealots" think that they get to decide what the Torah is, and just simply disregard the Shilchun Aruch, in favor of their own brand of "Halacha".

Just one question. Why did you have insert the paragraph regarding Hatzolo? The issue regarding Hatzolo is very different than all the other issues that you mentioned. While all the instances you mentioned pertain strictly to the "zealots", the Hatzolo issue has many people standing on both sides of the fence, it's not a issue of "zealotry". I've been following that story for a while, and realized that the opponents (and also the proponents!) have some very valid arguments. For instance, is Heshy Jacobs a zealot? It looks like you are pushing some agenda here!

But again, I applaud you for coming out and writing such a wonderful article. Chazak V'amotz!

And maybe not! Maybe the Hatzolah issue DOES have to do with zealots who want more control than they deserve.....

38

 Jan 04, 2012 at 03:42 PM Yossi Says:

Reply to #28  
Babishka Says:

Well I am a Hasidic woman, I have a B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science and 20 years working as a professional in the automotive industry. My daughter is at Columbia University earning her Master's degree.

Are you trying to argue from your own example to the general female Chassidic population? I wonder how many women who live in Kiryas Yoel or Square have college degrees and work in the general population.

39

 Jan 04, 2012 at 04:37 PM A Says:

Reply to #28  
Babishka Says:

Well I am a Hasidic woman, I have a B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science and 20 years working as a professional in the automotive industry. My daughter is at Columbia University earning her Master's degree.

Unfortunately, I think you are an exception to the rule. Just go visit KJ or Williamsburg and tell me how many college educated professional working women you see there. And how many of their daughters are or will be attending college. Bais Yaakov makes a point of discouraging their students to go to college after high school.

40

 Jan 04, 2012 at 04:42 PM Anonymous Says:

Mrs. Freier does a great service to the community with this well written piece. I am angered by the lies perpetrated by some of the blind or uninformed commenters. The OTD problem among the "ultra-orthodox", chassidishe, and litvishe communities is as strong as ever, growing by giant steps every year. You may visit parks on Shabbos afternoons in warm weather, and witness chassidishe boys removing their bekeshes to join goyim in basketball. There is also much chilul Shabbos, often away from the public eye. Every treif fast food joint knows that the frum kids who enter will ask for a cheeseburger - having learned by experience. Nope, the zealotry will NOT prevent fallout. If we make our ways of avodas Hashem more inviting, we will prevent much of the straying. Yes, our homes, our yeshivos, and shuls must be imbued with kedusha, one which embraces each of us, one which we model to our youth. The violence never helped, and the greatest tzaddikim of generations all frowned on "Frimminishen", the practice of empty frumkeit and chumros. All we need to do is listen to the gedolim who left us their teachings.

Thank you, Mrs. Freier. Hatzlocho and brocho in all you do.

41

 Jan 04, 2012 at 04:46 PM Queenbee Says:

Reply to #22  
Tell the truth Says:

Stop trying to make this out like it is only the Sikarikim. The problem of excess frumkeit or fanaticism is a pervasive problem in the entire community and extends in both the Litvishe and Chassidish spheres. It includes many popular Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva in Both America and Israel. It is not restricted to extremes such as spitting and violence but in many areas there is an intolerance for the other and a narrow minded close mindedness to anything different. It is all part and parcel of the Rightward shift in Orthodoxy over the past 40 years, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

I didn't get that impression at all. Her article included the shift to extremism in the Chareidi community other than the Sikrikim. She spoke about not accepting kids in school which is a Chareidi problem.

Thank you Ruchie Freier! I am ready to join you in your fight against the shift to extremism in our communities. It is not causing any gains in Yiddishkeit but rather we are losing kids and adults more and more.

42

 Jan 04, 2012 at 05:56 PM brooklynjew Says:

Why are these zealots called heroes in the two brooklyn based major chasidic news papers?
Aren't they officially part of the mainstream non violent chareidi sector? Both of these weekly papers represent the largest chasidic group in new york, and yet nobody says a word...
Let us voice our protest, and call on them to stop bombarding the yiddish reading masses with headlines which distort torah views, stop calling these zealots tzaddikim and the israeli police r'shaim, and then we will know that the problem exists only the sikrikim fringe group...

43

 Jan 04, 2012 at 06:04 PM brooklynjew Says:

Why are these zealots called heroes in the two brooklyn based major chasidic news papers?
Aren't they officially part of the mainstream non violent chareidi sector? Both of these weekly papers represent the largest chasidic group in new york, and yet nobody says a word...
Let us voice our protest, and call on them to stop bombarding the yiddish reading masses with headlines which distort torah views, stop calling these zealots tzaddikim and the israeli police r'shaim, and then we will know that the problem exists only the sikrikim fringe group...

44

 Jan 04, 2012 at 07:24 PM Chassidic Woman Says:

I am a Chassidic woman as well. I agree fully with this excellent and extremely well written and most timely article. Yasher Koach!

Yes, we are intelligent and knowledgeable. One does not need a university degree to attain that. Some of us are formally educated, some of us may stick to very traditional roles. Nevertheless, we are well-read, and aware - even if we do not have that degree. We are fulfilled and leading meaningful lives. As one great man, a distinguished jurist, once told me: Don't confuse education with intelligence.

The respect, love and devotion that I experience from dear husband or from my father, brothers or sons ( i.e. all the men in my life) is miles and miles away, no a world away, what the media has shown us from the Bet Shemesh zealots. I am Chassidic by birth, and from a very young age, have been educated to accept and respect every person that I encounter, whether Jew or gentile - and never to pass judgement on their level of observance or lack of it .

To Ruchi, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. G-d gave you the gift of articulation, and you, in have used that gift to foster respect for Hashem and the Torah.

45

 Jan 04, 2012 at 07:30 PM RabbiDoctor Says:

Though a side point in an otherwise nice article,I would like to set the facts straight regarding the yeshiva in Williamsburg. Most people don't have any problem with a yeshiva that caters to boys who need a different curriculum. The problem is a "rebbi" in a normal yeshiva, who secretly replaced learning with music, and intentionally turned the children against their parents. He didn't help bums, he CREATED them. If anyone cares to dispute any of these facts,I encourage to contact me

46

 Jan 04, 2012 at 07:37 PM Eagle Says:

Reply to #39  
A Says:

Unfortunately, I think you are an exception to the rule. Just go visit KJ or Williamsburg and tell me how many college educated professional working women you see there. And how many of their daughters are or will be attending college. Bais Yaakov makes a point of discouraging their students to go to college after high school.

Well, how many College educated MEN do they have in those communities? The level of education of chasidic women is 100% better than those of men, at least they can speak and write in the english language, while most men can't. I am tired of people claiming that Chasidic women are being discriminated against, when in fact the men are being discriminated by the way they have to dress and the way they are beaten in the schools, etc. At least the girls are not being getting beat up in schools by their teachers, i think they are the spoiled and privileged ones.

47

 Jan 04, 2012 at 08:44 PM bestseven Says:

I cannot believe that there is not one person out there that this article saddened. Why do our daughters must have college degrees? Does that really make a Jewish woman successful and wonderful? What does not having a degree have with zealotry? Also, why does there have to be women's division in hatzalah? I happen to know from an Hatzolah insider that R' Moshe, amongst others ruled against opening an ezras nashim. I also know, that if you would think for a minute you would understand that logistically it is best for men to do this kind of work, shlepping stretchers and facing all kinds of unsightly things. I never understood all these women who were "horrified" when Hatzolah members helped them give birth. Those same women had no problem with other men doctors delivering their children. I admire Mrs. Frier for her trying to stick up for what she believes is true. However, this is the beginning of the end. When subtle secular values begin eating their way into the hearts and minds of our community surely it will not end here. There is no reason women need to get "out there" more now than ever. There is no reason they need to have various degrees. Is there?

48

 Jan 04, 2012 at 08:53 PM Babishka Says:

Reply to #39  
A Says:

Unfortunately, I think you are an exception to the rule. Just go visit KJ or Williamsburg and tell me how many college educated professional working women you see there. And how many of their daughters are or will be attending college. Bais Yaakov makes a point of discouraging their students to go to college after high school.

I am not the exception in my neighborhood, just down the street there are professionals, doctors, lawyers, accountants. This neighborhood used to be a Modern Orthodox, but has become much more "Hasidish" in the past 20 years. We do not live anywhere near KJ or Williamburg.

During the years that I worked at General Motors I was the only JEW in my department. Not the only frum woman, not the only frum Jew, the ONLY JEW. When I worked at the Ford Motor Company I occasionally met other Jews and even some other frum Jews (including one Satmar BT). this is not an industry that attracts many Yidden.

49

 Jan 04, 2012 at 08:53 PM Gopfan Says:

I thonk you did more harm to the community then helping as the story with a yeshive in wmsbg....

50

 Jan 04, 2012 at 09:36 PM Stay at home Grandma Says:

Reply to #17  
Anonymous Says:

"Chasidic women are not subjugated nor are we submissive or dictated by masculine fiat. While we respect our tradition and primary role as wives, mothers and caretakers, we are also educated, balanced, content and often professional"

With all due respect, how many chassidic women are "educated......and often professional"? I am skeptical, to say the least. How many chassidic women even have a driver's license, let alone a basic high school educationl, to say nothing of college and graduate school? Your article is a long-overdue call for some rationality, but don't over-sell your position by injecting what is clearly not true into your argument.

Wow.ANONYMOUS...where is your information coming from? You mean to say the thousands upon thousands of girls graduating from high school every year are just a figment of someone's imagination...Nice...nice.and the thousands that choose to go to seminary....they are also a figment of someone's imagination..wewwwww..........
Driver's license.Any specific gemara stating that a woman should drive? Those that choose to, certainly do....why don't you just look around in Brooklyn....let me see....I guess I only see , well let's say 1 or 2 on the road huh????College, graduate school.....? How about if I tell you: Mommy, housewife, teacher, mechanuch, pshycotherapist.every trade in the book? Huh, why don't you show me how you can compete with that instead of hiding behind your anonymity..I can surely tell you without knowing, you'd probably flunk your exam!

51

 Jan 04, 2012 at 09:39 PM Supermom Says:

Reply to #17  
Anonymous Says:

"Chasidic women are not subjugated nor are we submissive or dictated by masculine fiat. While we respect our tradition and primary role as wives, mothers and caretakers, we are also educated, balanced, content and often professional"

With all due respect, how many chassidic women are "educated......and often professional"? I am skeptical, to say the least. How many chassidic women even have a driver's license, let alone a basic high school educationl, to say nothing of college and graduate school? Your article is a long-overdue call for some rationality, but don't over-sell your position by injecting what is clearly not true into your argument.

She wrote "often professional" meaning not most of chassidic women. Also, all women are educated! That's how Hashem created us! If you look around you a lot of women even with no degree have built up nice businesses! That speaks volumes

52

 Jan 04, 2012 at 09:43 PM proud to be a jew Says:

Reply to #19  
MyComment Says:

Sorry to inform you but I have witnessed ultra charedim who are mechalel shabbos with the complete livish. These people live double lives. One life where they have you fooled that they are observant at the same time right under your nose they lead a life in which they do what ever they want - eat treif, exercise immorality, etc. etc. So go ahead keep your head in the sand. In fact, what occurred over the passed few days in Israel proves them right at least to their distorted view of their world. At least the youth at risk are truthful to themselves and their surrounding. And if I may ask which do you think G-d prefers.

So now that you know a couple of shkutzim, unfortunately, you are willing to vilify everyone..Out in public...that makes you feel great, doesn't it? We have bad apples in every group, we are not perfect, but you, of course take pride in it enough to advertise it as if they belong to a majority.The shame is on YOU. Nobody today is "unaware" of what ails us...but B'H...B'H we can still be proud of being law abiding, G...d fearing yidden and shame on you again for finding nothing other than to bring out the needle in the haystack..........and that's what it is, needle in the haystack..... for shame.

53

 Jan 04, 2012 at 09:50 PM Frum and proud Says:

Reply to #22  
Tell the truth Says:

Stop trying to make this out like it is only the Sikarikim. The problem of excess frumkeit or fanaticism is a pervasive problem in the entire community and extends in both the Litvishe and Chassidish spheres. It includes many popular Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva in Both America and Israel. It is not restricted to extremes such as spitting and violence but in many areas there is an intolerance for the other and a narrow minded close mindedness to anything different. It is all part and parcel of the Rightward shift in Orthodoxy over the past 40 years, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

What you call narrow minded ...is not your business..so long as no one infringes their chumras or so called "frumkeit" on you , you have no legitimate complaint. To each it's own. They see yours as they do, and you see them as you do...And you are just about ready to malign the chassidish Rebbes in America and Eretz Yisroel...because they don't conform to YOUR STANDARDS, RIGHT??? Like Satmar Rebbe zt'l....pity he's not around for you to hold a debate with him...he would have put you right where you belong....real fast.

54

 Jan 04, 2012 at 10:00 PM Eishes Chayil Says:

Reply to #39  
A Says:

Unfortunately, I think you are an exception to the rule. Just go visit KJ or Williamsburg and tell me how many college educated professional working women you see there. And how many of their daughters are or will be attending college. Bais Yaakov makes a point of discouraging their students to go to college after high school.

And what's your problem with that? You mean it's better to have a college degree, B.A. Masters..Phd..etc...so when you come to shumayim after 120 you can show your certificate to the Beis Din Shel Mala...instead of showing your certificate as a true yiddisha mamma who nebech'"sacrificed" her career to raise her family ....and instead of having the Poilisha goita or Mexican these days taking our holy children off the buses and kissing them...instead you mommy decided to sit behind your desk having meetings with"professionals". Kol Hakovod to you....will stand you in good stead one of these days..hurray!!!!

55

 Jan 04, 2012 at 10:13 PM No common sense Says:

Reply to #40  
Anonymous Says:

Mrs. Freier does a great service to the community with this well written piece. I am angered by the lies perpetrated by some of the blind or uninformed commenters. The OTD problem among the "ultra-orthodox", chassidishe, and litvishe communities is as strong as ever, growing by giant steps every year. You may visit parks on Shabbos afternoons in warm weather, and witness chassidishe boys removing their bekeshes to join goyim in basketball. There is also much chilul Shabbos, often away from the public eye. Every treif fast food joint knows that the frum kids who enter will ask for a cheeseburger - having learned by experience. Nope, the zealotry will NOT prevent fallout. If we make our ways of avodas Hashem more inviting, we will prevent much of the straying. Yes, our homes, our yeshivos, and shuls must be imbued with kedusha, one which embraces each of us, one which we model to our youth. The violence never helped, and the greatest tzaddikim of generations all frowned on "Frimminishen", the practice of empty frumkeit and chumros. All we need to do is listen to the gedolim who left us their teachings.

Thank you, Mrs. Freier. Hatzlocho and brocho in all you do.

And you, my dear, think that change will come by exposing everything you know right here. We, the commenters...by our voices ...will get the job done, you think..by airing our dirty laundry, (and b'h, still a small load, by comparison)Yes...I'm not hiding behind anything....I'm an open minded grandma...
All "I" can say, as a woman, mother, grandmother, having had many difficult experiences in my life...been there, done that on many levels...to think that coming on sights and discussing this will change an iota...is like dreaming a sweet dream.
If that were the case, you would have had thousands of comments, after all....the majority of our people, even those who do use the computer to check out these websites, don't comment...the rest are busy leading their lives and trying to deal with life, as it is...The last few weeks have given me the idea that some of our own are really diss atisfied and even have a deep seated ...may I say "kind of hatred" for their fellow jews...to spew every little detail they know of that has not been spewed before, they are ready to advertise, so the public at large can and will use as ammunition against us."common sense is not so common" comes to mind.

56

 Jan 04, 2012 at 10:22 PM clarity Says:

Reply to #46  
Eagle Says:

Well, how many College educated MEN do they have in those communities? The level of education of chasidic women is 100% better than those of men, at least they can speak and write in the english language, while most men can't. I am tired of people claiming that Chasidic women are being discriminated against, when in fact the men are being discriminated by the way they have to dress and the way they are beaten in the schools, etc. At least the girls are not being getting beat up in schools by their teachers, i think they are the spoiled and privileged ones.

Eagle........you seem to be flying somewhere, I don't know exactly where.
If you know someone being beaten, why don't you stand up to it....and what exactly do you mean by discriminated by the way they have to dress....what in the world are you talking about...

57

 Jan 04, 2012 at 11:03 PM Ina Says:

Reply to #54  
Eishes Chayil Says:

And what's your problem with that? You mean it's better to have a college degree, B.A. Masters..Phd..etc...so when you come to shumayim after 120 you can show your certificate to the Beis Din Shel Mala...instead of showing your certificate as a true yiddisha mamma who nebech'"sacrificed" her career to raise her family ....and instead of having the Poilisha goita or Mexican these days taking our holy children off the buses and kissing them...instead you mommy decided to sit behind your desk having meetings with"professionals". Kol Hakovod to you....will stand you in good stead one of these days..hurray!!!!

I am disheartened by your biting comments. This editorial is not about the pros and cons of women in the work world. We all know there are many. However, we have forgotten that there are many ways to live a truly religious life and the importance of respecting others. If only we had remembered to live and let live we wouldn't be dealing with all the disenfranchised kids we have today. Don't kid yourselves, their ranks are growing and it is frightening. It is time to change the status quo that is not working. This is what Mrs. Freier is trying so courageously to do.

58

 Jan 04, 2012 at 11:45 PM #22 Says:

Reply to #53  
Frum and proud Says:

What you call narrow minded ...is not your business..so long as no one infringes their chumras or so called "frumkeit" on you , you have no legitimate complaint. To each it's own. They see yours as they do, and you see them as you do...And you are just about ready to malign the chassidish Rebbes in America and Eretz Yisroel...because they don't conform to YOUR STANDARDS, RIGHT??? Like Satmar Rebbe zt'l....pity he's not around for you to hold a debate with him...he would have put you right where you belong....real fast.

Actually, one could argue that the rightward and extremist shift has been pushed by the chassidishe velt and in particular Satmar. One could also argue that the other Gedolim during the time of the Satmer Rebbe should have come out more vociferously against his rabid and extreme anti zionist views, which they did not agree with. There is clearly a link between the extreme anti zionist ideaology and the other extreme religious postures adapted by both Satmar and the wider community of extremists. The extreme gender seperation practised in certain chassidishe communities has also rubbed off on the wider Tzibur both in America and in Israel. One could argue that the Tzad Hashave of all of this, is excessive frumkeit that is not mandated by Shulchan Aruch. There have been Rabbonim over the years who screamed about this, but their voices were too far and few between and were drowned out. Well the result is what you see today and it is not a pretty picture.

59

 Jan 05, 2012 at 12:07 AM stamm Says:

Reply to #17  
Anonymous Says:

"Chasidic women are not subjugated nor are we submissive or dictated by masculine fiat. While we respect our tradition and primary role as wives, mothers and caretakers, we are also educated, balanced, content and often professional"

With all due respect, how many chassidic women are "educated......and often professional"? I am skeptical, to say the least. How many chassidic women even have a driver's license, let alone a basic high school educationl, to say nothing of college and graduate school? Your article is a long-overdue call for some rationality, but don't over-sell your position by injecting what is clearly not true into your argument.

huh? why "educated" only refers to those going to secular college?
There are tons of chassidishe women principals , teachers, professors, managing the books, managing the offices, even managing businesses, and the list goes on but yes their primary role is being a wife, mother and caretaker. anything wrong with that?

60

 Jan 05, 2012 at 01:28 AM bestseven Says:

Reply to #59  
stamm Says:

huh? why "educated" only refers to those going to secular college?
There are tons of chassidishe women principals , teachers, professors, managing the books, managing the offices, even managing businesses, and the list goes on but yes their primary role is being a wife, mother and caretaker. anything wrong with that?

Exactly. See my reply (47). I can't understand why every body is so gung ho about this op-ed. It is a completely secular idea and should not resonate at all with our ideals. The fact that so many people are so thrilled at having women be "educated" and accomplished in ways that conflict with their roles as true Yiddishe wives and mothers (much of the time, not always) pains me. It seems we, as Jewish women are losing sight of where are hearts and focus should be. I cannot believe that I am an almost lone dissenter in this debate.

61

 Jan 05, 2012 at 01:48 AM Dovidl Says:

Reply to #8  
Halaivy Says:

We all try our best for kevod shomaim and statistics have shown that the ultra charedim have a smaller percentage that need bederech (a great organization) and as a chosid myself we have less then one percent dropouts in our kehilah most of them erliche yidden but don't like the strict rules of the kehilah and for that I wouldn't advocate that the 99% lower their bar so the less then 1% feel comfortable.
If we should give up our strict rules we would have much more kids going off and will not have the 99% beauty especiely by giving up the midah of the one quoted Sarah Imainu that it says Hineh Bo'ohel and as rashi explaines the reson she didn't come out was because Tznuah Hayso and would not show up were men are.
Studying (and practicing) law surely would not be allowed by the likes of rabbi Steinman.
So while you are doing great things with others it might be considered Chateh kedai sheyizkeh chaverechah which is against halachah.
If you are so right would you be allowed to preach in your chasidish shul?

... and Halaivy - you completely missed the point! "Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you!". No-one was picking on your strict rules. But by-the-way a smart Yid would know how to deal with each B'darko.... as Ya'akov and his sons!

62

 Jan 05, 2012 at 01:50 AM Dovidl Says:

Reply to #59  
stamm Says:

huh? why "educated" only refers to those going to secular college?
There are tons of chassidishe women principals , teachers, professors, managing the books, managing the offices, even managing businesses, and the list goes on but yes their primary role is being a wife, mother and caretaker. anything wrong with that?

... Stamm ... did you read the same article as the rest of us? Don't be so defensive... the articles actually supported your point 100%. Take time, be patient, Hashem Hu H'Elokim - Ein od Milvadoh!!!!

63

 Jan 05, 2012 at 05:14 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #18  
EinYid Says:

Thank You Mrs. Freier for standing up for the silent majority. The mistake we all make at times is, We think we can educate the extremists amongst us.

We cannot!

They simply refuse to be educated. As soon as you try, they will throw ten psukim at you why you are wrong... They feel so self righteous, it is pathetic that often times smart people can be this way. Common decency, and common sense simply does not matter, because they feel so right about themselves in their twisted logic.

We live in difficult times for true chareidim, but your wise and courage's words give us all hope. Please don't allow yourself to be silenced, the silent majority needs you.

Thank You again.

'they will throw ten psukim at you' - no, they cannot muster even one posuk.

Also, there is no logic to their position because they are not capable of logical thinking.

The reason they cannot be educated is because they are not interested in Judaism. They are interested only in control. They are losers who have discovered that in a society where public response and reprimand is not the traditional way of doing things, violence is moderately successful. They only understand violence and can only be trained - nottaught - by it.

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 Jan 05, 2012 at 02:29 AM Anonymous Says:

Bottom line its Satmar who's behind this, the one Mitzvah in the torah its called Medina,when you focus on one part of the Torah this what happens you can be oiver all other mitvos as long as the shitah is intact.

65

 Jan 05, 2012 at 08:57 AM SandraM Says:

Reply to #58  
#22 Says:

Actually, one could argue that the rightward and extremist shift has been pushed by the chassidishe velt and in particular Satmar. One could also argue that the other Gedolim during the time of the Satmer Rebbe should have come out more vociferously against his rabid and extreme anti zionist views, which they did not agree with. There is clearly a link between the extreme anti zionist ideaology and the other extreme religious postures adapted by both Satmar and the wider community of extremists. The extreme gender seperation practised in certain chassidishe communities has also rubbed off on the wider Tzibur both in America and in Israel. One could argue that the Tzad Hashave of all of this, is excessive frumkeit that is not mandated by Shulchan Aruch. There have been Rabbonim over the years who screamed about this, but their voices were too far and few between and were drowned out. Well the result is what you see today and it is not a pretty picture.

Probably very true. Today there are many Satmar that are more moderate, but still the concept of demonstrations, inflammatory language etc, does seem to resonate from some of their ideology.

In general, every Jew that has an outward appearance of being religiously observant etc, has a huge responsibility. A frumme Yid represents the Torah and Hashem. Literally, we are walking Torah. Whatever comes out of our mouth must reflect the Torah, otherwise we are spitting on its holy words. Rabbi Akiva taught us long ago that " Ve-ahavta Le-re-acha Komecha " is the most important principle of Torah. We need to teach ourselves and our children to have Ahavas Yisroel and Kovod Habriyos. We must inculcate into our children that we must love and respect another Jew even (especially!) if they are different than us. End of story. The greatest tzoros, from the death of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students to the churban habayis, stemmed from "Lo nohagu Kavod Ze Laze".

66

 Jan 05, 2012 at 10:17 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #55  
No common sense Says:

And you, my dear, think that change will come by exposing everything you know right here. We, the commenters...by our voices ...will get the job done, you think..by airing our dirty laundry, (and b'h, still a small load, by comparison)Yes...I'm not hiding behind anything....I'm an open minded grandma...
All "I" can say, as a woman, mother, grandmother, having had many difficult experiences in my life...been there, done that on many levels...to think that coming on sights and discussing this will change an iota...is like dreaming a sweet dream.
If that were the case, you would have had thousands of comments, after all....the majority of our people, even those who do use the computer to check out these websites, don't comment...the rest are busy leading their lives and trying to deal with life, as it is...The last few weeks have given me the idea that some of our own are really diss atisfied and even have a deep seated ...may I say "kind of hatred" for their fellow jews...to spew every little detail they know of that has not been spewed before, they are ready to advertise, so the public at large can and will use as ammunition against us."common sense is not so common" comes to mind.

Could you please rewrite your comment? It was rambling and incoherent. You seem to have a challenge to something I wrote, and several rereads of your comment did not yield any thought that I could recognize as either a challenge or support to what I wrote in #40. All I noted was the fact that there is far more going on in the "Ultra" community than one would like to believe. It is not an estimate but a fact. I know because I am heavily involved with it. Zealotry has no effect on it, other than just another matter of distaste for what is portrayed (inaccurately) as being "frum". This calls to mind a quote from Reb Naftoli of Ropschitz. The word פרום stands for פיל רשעות ווייניג מצוות.

67

 Jan 05, 2012 at 11:05 AM DavidCohen Says:

Reply to #47  
bestseven Says:

I cannot believe that there is not one person out there that this article saddened. Why do our daughters must have college degrees? Does that really make a Jewish woman successful and wonderful? What does not having a degree have with zealotry? Also, why does there have to be women's division in hatzalah? I happen to know from an Hatzolah insider that R' Moshe, amongst others ruled against opening an ezras nashim. I also know, that if you would think for a minute you would understand that logistically it is best for men to do this kind of work, shlepping stretchers and facing all kinds of unsightly things. I never understood all these women who were "horrified" when Hatzolah members helped them give birth. Those same women had no problem with other men doctors delivering their children. I admire Mrs. Frier for her trying to stick up for what she believes is true. However, this is the beginning of the end. When subtle secular values begin eating their way into the hearts and minds of our community surely it will not end here. There is no reason women need to get "out there" more now than ever. There is no reason they need to have various degrees. Is there?

"Why do our daughters must have college degrees?"

Because we want them to be able to write a sentence as basic as the one you attempted, and actually succeed in doing so!

68

 Jan 05, 2012 at 12:03 PM eigner Says:

Reply to #54
Wow!!!
In a sea of so many nonsense comments your SHORT & TO THE POINT comment almost gets lost.

Well put!!!

69

 Jan 05, 2012 at 05:22 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #47  
bestseven Says:

I cannot believe that there is not one person out there that this article saddened. Why do our daughters must have college degrees? Does that really make a Jewish woman successful and wonderful? What does not having a degree have with zealotry? Also, why does there have to be women's division in hatzalah? I happen to know from an Hatzolah insider that R' Moshe, amongst others ruled against opening an ezras nashim. I also know, that if you would think for a minute you would understand that logistically it is best for men to do this kind of work, shlepping stretchers and facing all kinds of unsightly things. I never understood all these women who were "horrified" when Hatzolah members helped them give birth. Those same women had no problem with other men doctors delivering their children. I admire Mrs. Frier for her trying to stick up for what she believes is true. However, this is the beginning of the end. When subtle secular values begin eating their way into the hearts and minds of our community surely it will not end here. There is no reason women need to get "out there" more now than ever. There is no reason they need to have various degrees. Is there?

Really bestseven? Really? No one said our "daughters must have college degrees"! What's good for some is not good for others! Hashem created the world according to his rules. A symphony is made up of all types of instruments! Chanoch l'naar al pi darko!!

70

 Jan 05, 2012 at 05:15 PM Dovidl Says:

Reply to #54  
Eishes Chayil Says:

And what's your problem with that? You mean it's better to have a college degree, B.A. Masters..Phd..etc...so when you come to shumayim after 120 you can show your certificate to the Beis Din Shel Mala...instead of showing your certificate as a true yiddisha mamma who nebech'"sacrificed" her career to raise her family ....and instead of having the Poilisha goita or Mexican these days taking our holy children off the buses and kissing them...instead you mommy decided to sit behind your desk having meetings with"professionals". Kol Hakovod to you....will stand you in good stead one of these days..hurray!!!!

54 and 39 ....? The article was not written in defence of women getting degrees and working in professions nor was it attacking women who choose to pursue their roles as a "true yiddisha mamma". In fact it supports both!!!! THE ACTION BEING APPROPRIATELY CASTIGATED IN THE ARTICLE IS THE ACTIONS OF CERTAIN JEWS WHO TAKE IT UPON THEMSELVES TO ACT AS BEIS DIN AND POLICEMEN THEMSELVES!!!! WHERE IN TORAH IS THAT ACTION JUSTIFIED???? DON'T THESE PEOPLE HEAR THE ECHOES OF THE BURNING BES HAMIKDASH? DO NOT DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD NOT HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU! For the rest... Hashem WILL be THE JUDGE at 120... In the meantime we act in accordance with our daily prayers that Hashem hasten and bring Mashiach now!!

71

 Jan 05, 2012 at 04:55 PM Eishes Chayil Says:

Thank you Eigner...wonder which one?
Just speaking from the heart. I've seen enough to make me nauseous...Mothers who have traded in the most beautiful, uplifting, fulfilling profession in the world..the one Hashem has "specifically" chosen for them...bored to death and not "stimulated" enough by raising their kids...and looking for " out of the home" pleasures to nurture their souls..
Shame...
Sorry for them....their loss.

72

 Jan 05, 2012 at 04:39 PM undergrad Says:

Reply to #67  
DavidCohen Says:

"Why do our daughters must have college degrees?"

Because we want them to be able to write a sentence as basic as the one you attempted, and actually succeed in doing so!

Sorry, you don't need college to learn how to spell or write a decent sentence. Trust me, I've seen quite a number of imbecilic college graduates..no diploma in the world will give them the intelligence they need...!
There is a difference between education and intelligence....and we can always pick up on subjects we want to excel in....out of college, but you can never instill someone with seichel...no matter how educated they are. B'H, I went to a chassidish school many years ago..I love to read and have picked up a lot more than my college counterparts ever will. There are libraries, books, many avenues of learning...including the computer.People are taking courses on computers today, resulting in B.A,...masters...if that's what they choose.
P.S. Any student mastering high school should have the know how to put a sentence together....and more...don't need college for that.

73

 Jan 05, 2012 at 04:06 PM go satmar go Says:

Reply to #64  
Anonymous Says:

Bottom line its Satmar who's behind this, the one Mitzvah in the torah its called Medina,when you focus on one part of the Torah this what happens you can be oiver all other mitvos as long as the shitah is intact.

And you, my dear, are speaking for yourself!.......don't malign Satmar...because I am Satmar and am not part of this!!!And neither are many of my friends. Everyone with a rational mind knows behavior that is unbecoming......so speak for yourself...not for me or any of my fellow Satmars...
Go Satmar Go........

74

 Jan 05, 2012 at 01:50 PM Melfer Says:

Reply to #47  
bestseven Says:

I cannot believe that there is not one person out there that this article saddened. Why do our daughters must have college degrees? Does that really make a Jewish woman successful and wonderful? What does not having a degree have with zealotry? Also, why does there have to be women's division in hatzalah? I happen to know from an Hatzolah insider that R' Moshe, amongst others ruled against opening an ezras nashim. I also know, that if you would think for a minute you would understand that logistically it is best for men to do this kind of work, shlepping stretchers and facing all kinds of unsightly things. I never understood all these women who were "horrified" when Hatzolah members helped them give birth. Those same women had no problem with other men doctors delivering their children. I admire Mrs. Frier for her trying to stick up for what she believes is true. However, this is the beginning of the end. When subtle secular values begin eating their way into the hearts and minds of our community surely it will not end here. There is no reason women need to get "out there" more now than ever. There is no reason they need to have various degrees. Is there?

With all due respect, the fractured grammar of your comment ("Why do our daughters must have college degrees?") is a clear indication of how you, personally, might have benefited from a formal education.

75

 Jan 05, 2012 at 01:56 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #59  
stamm Says:

huh? why "educated" only refers to those going to secular college?
There are tons of chassidishe women principals , teachers, professors, managing the books, managing the offices, even managing businesses, and the list goes on but yes their primary role is being a wife, mother and caretaker. anything wrong with that?

Because that's what "educated" actually means. However, you may have hit upon a solution, an answer to critics of the widespread lack of education in the chareidi world. Just change the definition of "education" to whatever you want it to mean. Anything wrong with that?

76

 Jan 05, 2012 at 07:36 PM websheigetz Says:

Reply to #47  
bestseven Says:

I cannot believe that there is not one person out there that this article saddened. Why do our daughters must have college degrees? Does that really make a Jewish woman successful and wonderful? What does not having a degree have with zealotry? Also, why does there have to be women's division in hatzalah? I happen to know from an Hatzolah insider that R' Moshe, amongst others ruled against opening an ezras nashim. I also know, that if you would think for a minute you would understand that logistically it is best for men to do this kind of work, shlepping stretchers and facing all kinds of unsightly things. I never understood all these women who were "horrified" when Hatzolah members helped them give birth. Those same women had no problem with other men doctors delivering their children. I admire Mrs. Frier for her trying to stick up for what she believes is true. However, this is the beginning of the end. When subtle secular values begin eating their way into the hearts and minds of our community surely it will not end here. There is no reason women need to get "out there" more now than ever. There is no reason they need to have various degrees. Is there?

I must thank you for this post. I myself tried posting a somewhat dessenting and non 'flattering' view but was obviously rebuffed. On another point, throughout the comments is this prevailing view that the GEDOLIM aren't saying what needs to be said. Reminds me of a line from GEORGE BURNS 'why are all the people who really know how to run the world, driving taxis or giving haircuts'.

77

 Jan 06, 2012 at 10:30 AM GoldieLocks Says:

As a proud member of the Chareidi community, I find it deeply troubling when fanatics distort the teachings of our beautiful Torah in such disgusting ways. I have been blessed to know many, many frum Yidden who are committed, sincere, and balanced, so I know that these people are a minority; however, despite their small numbers, they are too dangerous to be ignored. Ruchie Freier has been brave enough to stand up and say what truly needs to be said: these fanatics are bringing shame upon us and wreaking havoc in our community, and we must be willing to stand up and say, "Enough!"

78

 Jan 09, 2012 at 12:12 PM minevort Says:

you took what's been on my mind for a long time and put it down on paper. I'm so glad to see it. This is so true and importent. It must be delt with.

79

 Jan 11, 2012 at 12:45 AM CatskillCat Says:

Reply to #27  
YJay1 Says:

Thank you Mrs. Freier for your beautiful and heartwarming words. I especially enjoyed how you wrote that we as Jews don't need any Feminism, we just need to turn to the Torah and there we can find the great respect that the Jewish Religion has for the Jewish woman. Unfortunately the "zealots" think that they get to decide what the Torah is, and just simply disregard the Shilchun Aruch, in favor of their own brand of "Halacha".

Just one question. Why did you have insert the paragraph regarding Hatzolo? The issue regarding Hatzolo is very different than all the other issues that you mentioned. While all the instances you mentioned pertain strictly to the "zealots", the Hatzolo issue has many people standing on both sides of the fence, it's not a issue of "zealotry". I've been following that story for a while, and realized that the opponents (and also the proponents!) have some very valid arguments. For instance, is Heshy Jacobs a zealot? It looks like you are pushing some agenda here!

But again, I applaud you for coming out and writing such a wonderful article. Chazak V'amotz!

The Hatzalah issue is indeed an important one. We simply wish to return to women the job that was historically theirs, assisting in labor and/or delivery. That our young (and old) chassidish and litvish men are checking out women in labor is not good for the men or the women. We have the ability to right a wrong. Let's do it, no hidden agenda necessary.

80

 Jan 11, 2012 at 12:56 AM CatskillCat Says:

Reply to #27  
YJay1 Says:

Thank you Mrs. Freier for your beautiful and heartwarming words. I especially enjoyed how you wrote that we as Jews don't need any Feminism, we just need to turn to the Torah and there we can find the great respect that the Jewish Religion has for the Jewish woman. Unfortunately the "zealots" think that they get to decide what the Torah is, and just simply disregard the Shilchun Aruch, in favor of their own brand of "Halacha".

Just one question. Why did you have insert the paragraph regarding Hatzolo? The issue regarding Hatzolo is very different than all the other issues that you mentioned. While all the instances you mentioned pertain strictly to the "zealots", the Hatzolo issue has many people standing on both sides of the fence, it's not a issue of "zealotry". I've been following that story for a while, and realized that the opponents (and also the proponents!) have some very valid arguments. For instance, is Heshy Jacobs a zealot? It looks like you are pushing some agenda here!

But again, I applaud you for coming out and writing such a wonderful article. Chazak V'amotz!

Thank you, Ruchie Freier, for a poignant, well-written article. And thank you for speaking up for all of the women who have needed or will need emergency medical help for labor or childbirth. It is time for women to reclaim their historical role in assisting women for this personal, sacred event. We need a women's division or Hatzalah or the equivalent, and we have many already trained women ready to serve, with many more anxiously awaiting the outcome of the situation at hand so they can get the training and be of assistance. What you are doing can positively affect generations to come. And ALL of Klal yisroel will benefit, both men and women.

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