Haredi women vote in the 2013 elections..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The chairwoman of Ubezchutan, a party designed to attract the votes of haredi women in its run for the Knesset, says she received the backing of a well known, senior haredi rabbi who is frequently in the public eye.
Ruth Colian said on Tuesday that she had spoken with the rabbi before deciding to become a candidate, and that he said there was no prohibition in Jewish law for a woman to run for office.
Colian added that the rabbi had wished her success in her campaign. She has refused to publicly name him for fear of creating a backlash against him.
Ubezchutan’s campaign is based on Colian’s goal of providing haredi women with direct political representation in the Knesset, where, she says, the all-male haredi factions fail to address the needs and requirements of haredi women.
She made her remarks during a visit to Beit Shemesh to see for herself evidence of discrimination against women and to drum up support for her small but vocal faction.
“Extremists have taken control of Beit Shemesh, and the exclusion of women in some parts of the city is ongoing,” Colian said, referring to modesty signs and demands on a street in a haredi neighborhood that women walk on a separate sidewalk from men.
“Rabbi Ovadia Yosef always adopted a lenient approach to Jewish law, and that is why he was so loved,” she said, in reference to the haredi rabbi and Torah scholar who served as spiritual leader of the Shas movement for 30 years before his death in 2013.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post before her tour of the city, which in recent years has seen severe social and political tensions between haredi and non-haredi residents and politicians, Colian said support for her party was growing. She added, however, that gaining greater exposure for Ubezchutan in the hardcore haredi community was extremely difficult, since mainstream haredi newspapers had refused to allow her party to publish its campaign ads.
Although such access has not been denied by some haredi websites, she said haredi women without regular and easy access to the Internet were not getting exposure to the existence of her party.
To this end, she said that she and other party activists would be distributing campaign fliers in the mixed hared/non-haredi neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef, as well as in one the city’s commercial zones.
“We need to say that we are here, and here to stay,” she said of her party, adding that it was important to highlight discrimination against women in Beit Shemesh and in Israeli society.
“It’s not haredi to divide streets. This is just extremism at the expense of women. People who want to gain legitimacy and who want to be seen as a ‘righteous person’ do this by imposing greater stringencies on women,” she said.