The wife of a Gerrer Hassidic rabbi has reportedly encouraged women to go to the voting centers dressed in their Shabbat clothes and wearing makeup in order to "attract more and more men" to cast their votes for the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party.
Speaking on a women-only hotline for her Gerer hassidic community on Tuesday afternoon, Tirtza Melena reportedly instructed women to try and bring up the voter percentages in their communities by wearing their Shabbat clothes, which are generally more formal and expensive than the clothes worn during the week.
If women wear Shabbat clothes to the polls, she said, they "will cause a great sanctification of God['s name]" and will convince more people to join them in voting.
Melena's statement was first shared on WhatsApp by an unknown source and was then circulated in full on Twitter.
"Now it is our turn, daughters of Jacob, to wear garments of splendor in honor of Shabbat," Melena was quoted as saying. "A woman who does this can attract more and more men from the people in the fields."
She stressed that when speaking of Shabbat clothes, she did not mean "a robe and a bandana" - the more casual mode of dress that some ultra-Orthodox women choose to wear on the weekend - but that women must be dressed in the best clothing they own.
"The Shabbat wig must be worn," she said. "Put on makeup and fix your blemishes. And most importantly, wear heels. In short, we must do everything we can in order to increase our votes."
While some are doubtful that the unverified message circulating online is indeed from Melena, others believe it to be real, with a Channel 13 reporter calling it "warped and frightening."
Women, Modesty and the ultra-Orthodox community
Ultra-Orthodox women tend to face extreme scrutiny from the male leaders in their communities when it comes to modesty and clothing.
Following the Meron disaster in May 2021 in which 45 people died, the then-rabbinic leader of UTJ Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky said that the disaster was a "decree from heaven" and a sign that women must work to dress more modestly.
Following Kanievsky's death in March of this year, Rabbi Gershon Edelstein took over as the spiritual leader for the Ashkenazi haredi UTJ party.
Edelstein has made several statements in the past regarding modesty and ultra-Orthodox women, including comments made in 2016 in which he told haredi high school girls that they were forbidden from pursuing higher education as "the place of a daughter of Israel is not there, the place of a daughter of Israel is in Beit Ya'acov [schools] only."
Under Edelstein's spiritual guidance and the leadership of MK Moshe Gafni, the UTJ party is predicted to win six or seven seats in the elections for the 25th Knesset.