A new low for Shas
Hiddush slams Shas leader's attack on women's higher education
Rabbi Shalom Cohen, Shas's new spiritual leader wrote a letter which forbids women from entering academic studies. Hiddush foresees a split in the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox party.
Member of the elder council of Shas and head of ''Porat Yosef'' Yeshiva Rabbi Shalom Cohen at his home in Jerusalem. 06-10-2011. Photo: Kobi Gidon/Flash 90
Hiddush-Freedom of Religion for Israel strongly denounced statements written in a letter by the new spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Sefardic party, Shas. Rabbi Shalom Cohen, the successor of the late Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, condemned women's participation in higher education.
Rabbi Uri Regev, Hiddush CEO said that the Shas Party was breaking new records for religious zealotry and the party under Rabbi Cohen's leadership, "prefers to guarantee that graduates of its institutions remain in poverty and ignorance"
In the letter, Rabbi Cohen wrote, “We are witness to the fact that women students, graduates of religious seminaries, wish to enroll in academic studies. Our rabbis, the sages of Israel (may their merit protect us), were absolutely opposed to academic studies, even in Haredi colleges, since many of the lecturers are university graduates and do not have the purely Torah-based outlook in which we were brought up…Therefore, women students should not even think of enrolling in academic studies in any setting whatsoever, since that is not the way of Torah.”
"It's difficult to ignore the fact that Rabbi Shalom Cohen's first letter as Shas's spiritual leader directly attacks the Haredi College run by the late Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef's daughter, Adina Bar-Shalom."
Rabbi Regev saw this letter and surrounding controversy as a clear departure from the legacy of Rabbi Cohen's predecessor. "It's difficult not to pay attention to the fact that Rabbi Shalom Cohen's first letter as Shas's spiritual leader directly attacks the Haredi College run by the late Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef's daughter, Adina Bar-Shalom."
Rabbi Regev foresees a split between Shas leadership and traditional Israelis, who make up a large portion of the party's supporters and voters because of these statements against women's education.