Yesh Atid MK Ruth Calderon expressed support for women seeking to enter politics
on Monday while referencing the recent withdrawal from Jerusalem’s municipal
elections of a haredi woman who was running on the Bayit Yehudi
“It’s becoming clear that even in 2013, not every woman who wants
to enter the world of politics and lead social change can actualize her goals,”
wrote Calderon on her Facebook page. “In recent weeks, we have unfortunately
heard about extremely talented women who were forced to give up on their dreams
to enter politics because of threats they received.”
Racheli Ibenboim, a
28-year old haredi woman from Mea She’arim, the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of
Jerusalem, who serves as director for the Meir Panim charity, was given the
third spot on Bayit Yehudi’s electoral list for elections to the municipal
council, an eminently obtainable spot.
Having declared her candidacy
however, she was subject to numerous threats from elements within the haredi
community demanding that she withdraw her name or face serious social
Writing on her Facebook page just before Rosh Hashana,
Ibenboim said that following her announcement it became clear to her that if she
were to continue with her election campaign she would be denounced by the
community, despite having received permission from “a senior rabbi accepted in
the community to which I belong” to go ahead with her candidacy.
politicos enlisted the influential people in order that I would not be left
within any choice other than to chose between public service in the Jerusalem
Municipality or my belonging to the haredi community,” Ibenboim wrote.
an interview with Yediot Aharonot, she said that threats were made that her
children would be expelled from the educational institutes they attend, and that
she and her family would be expelled from their synagogue and
Saying that politics was a means and not and end, Ibenboim
said it was not in her interests to “sacrifice everything that I have and
everything that I am” by continuing with her campaign.
“My goals are to
try and change, at least a little bit, the social climate in the haredi sector.
To prove that it is also permitted for a woman, that women also have the ability
to make a not inconsiderable contribution to haredi and Israeli
That every person has affiliated with any sector the right to
free choice and the ability to fulfill themselves,” she wrote. “It seems I was
too optimistic to quickly.”
In a later post, Ibenboim condemned in even
stronger terms the community insiders who had forced her to withdraw her
She said that “politicos” within the community “who are not
qualified to express a Torah ruling, who were not appointed to decide on the
direction of the public, and for whom it is impossible to know (but maybe to
guess) the considerations that motivate them,” had been able to force her to
withdraw despite the backing she received from a prominent and respected rabbi,
who she nevertheless declined to name.
Maimonides, the 12th-century rabbi
and codifier of Jewish law, wrote that it is forbidden to appoint women to rule
or to any public leadership roles. This is a position to which the haredi world,
as well as more hard-line elements in the national-religious movement, seemingly
adhere to, although it was not widely adopted by later authorities, including
the Shulhan Aruch, a universally accepted codification of Jewish law written in
the 16th century.
Calderon in her comments wrote that she would be active
in promoting the participation of women in public life.
“The world of
politics and the the public forum need those women who dream and arouse
inspiration. I will continue to fight so that women will have an active and
central role in Israeli society without any cause for fear whatsoever.”
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