Hassidic Jews in the United Kingdom.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A major hassidic sect in Stamford Hill has banned women from driving according to a report published by The Jewish Standard.
In a letter sent out last week, the leading rabbis of the Belz community declared that female drivers fly in the face of "the traditional rules of modesty" expected in the hassidic camp. The letter also stated that beginning in August, children who are driven to school by their mothers may be banned from academic institutions.
The letter claimed that as more mothers begin to drive their children to school, there has been an increase in "resentment among parents of pupils of our institutions."
The Belz sect of Hassidism is known to be relatively moderate when compared to other sects. The issue of women driving has always been a controversial subject in the hassidic community but this is the first time direct action has been taken against it in the United Kingdom.
"The instinct behind such a draconian ban is one of power and control, of men over women," said Dina Brawer, the UK ambassador of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. "In this sense it is no different from the driving ban on women in Saudi Arabia. That it masquerades as a halachic imperative is shameful and disturbing.”
This policy "disables women," said one local woman. "The more kids they have, the more they need to drive." She also said that it is her belief that women will drive despite the new edict.