Marking the moments
Hiddush celebrates Israeli independence and great strides for gender equality
Israel's Day of Indepedence in 2014 marks the 66th anniversary of the date when Israel's founding promise of "freedom of religion and conscience" was declared in the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Hiddush is still work tirelessly to help Israel in fully realizing that promise.
Over 300 women participated in a flash mob against exclusion of women and segregated bus lines in Beit Shemesh. Photo credit: Flash90
For the first time this year, Israel's annual Torch-Lighting Ceremony, which marks the transition from Memorial Day to Independence Day and honors exemplary Israeli citizens, will acknowledge and celebrate women across the religious, political, and social spectrum who have played a significant role in building the State of Israel. Hiddush will echo this laudable sentiment with our own Alternative Torch Ceremony, that has become a Hiddush tradition, and applaud women who play a major role in advancing gender equality in Israel, which is constantly under assault from religious fundamentalist circles.
We are taking an active role in advancing gender equality despite opposition from extremist religious elements in Israeli society. The most recent initiative is a legal demand we sent this week on behalf of Hiddush and other leading organizations in the field of gender equality, challenging the decision of the Ministry of Religious Services to appoint an all-male election committee for Jerusalem's upcoming Chief Rabbi elections. In 2014, these discriminatory practices should be abolished. There is ample legal precedent for gender equality that should be a self-evident principle by now, and we will pursue the matter in the coming weeks.
Increasing success in the battle for gender equality
Another piece of good news for gender equality came a few days ago, when the Israeli Supreme Court ruled on the Egged public bus company's refusal to feature women's faces and bodies on their Jerusalem buses' advertising space. Following a lengthy legal battle, Egged reversed its position, and the Court gave the force of a ruling with the parties' agreement that Egged would now be committed to allow women's faces and bodies on their buses' advertisements.
These important achievements add to Hiddush's victory already merited in successfully pressuring the Ministry of Religious Services to ensure adequate representation of women in Israel's Religious Councils. The most recent development on this front was when the Attorney General acquiesced to Hiddush's position and informed us and the Minister of Religious Services that women must be properly represented in Israel's
Hiddush works tirelessly to address these challenges and are in excellent company of like-minded organizations with whom we work closely to confront these threats to Israel's soul as a Jewish and democratic state
religious councils and there should be affirmative action practiced to implement this long overdue principle of gender equality even when it comes to religious institutions when they serve in an administrative role.
Challenges still lay ahead
As Israel enters into 67th year, it is important to realize that while there is clearly progress, albeit gradual, there is also an ongoing threat to Israel's rule of law and democratic and Zionist character. We see it manifested against non-Jews, often in the form of vandalism aimed at houses of worship, but frequently we confront it as it was harshly expressed earlier in the week, on Yom Ha'Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). A popular ultra-Orthodox news site posted an article entitled "Zio-Nazis responsible the death of millions in the Holocaust" blaming the pre-state Zionist leadership for the death of millions of Jewish victims of the Nazis.
A few days later, this was followed by another article, focusing on the ultra-Orthodox refusal to abide by the draft law, which aims to draft yeshiva students to the army. It is unbelievable how many grotesque and hateful words were used in the article when describing the Jewish and democratic State of Israel. The article repeatedly uses terms like "apostasy government" and "collaborating with the Satan that threatens the Jewish people" to describe what they called the "impure State of Israel."
Closing our eyes to this reality will not make it go away. At 66, Israel is still facing an existential battle over its core identity as a Jewish and democratic state. There are many who still hope to see Israel become a theocracy and several individuals who hold such views serve in Israel's Knesset and have been welcomed to participate in Israel's government coalitions in the past.
Hiddush works tirelessly to address these challenges and are in excellent company of like-minded organizations with whom we work closely to confront these threats to Israel's soul as a Jewish and democratic state, but we need your support in promoting this critical agenda!