Second haredi woman gets threats over political candidacy

The founder of a web portal for women called 'womenet,' has been given party’s sixth slot on its electoral list in the elections.

Haredi woman working 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Haredi woman working 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A haredi woman running for the new Ometz Lev party in Jerusalem’s municipal elections has received anonymous threats demanding that she withdraw her candidacy.
Masada Porat, founder of a Web portal for women called Womenet, has been given the party’s sixth slot on its electoral list in the October 22 elections for the Jerusalem City Council.
In the past two days she and her husband have received numerous threatening phone threats with the anonymous callers demanding she step away from the political campaign.
The calls began after she and Racheli Ibenboim, another haredi woman who was running for the municipal council, were interviewed on Army Radio on Monday.
Ibenboim, was was No. 3 on Bayit Yehudi’s electoral list, withdrew her candidacy after receiving threats demanding she leave the race or face social excommunication and the expulsion of her children from the educational institutes they attend.
Porat said she has not received such specific threats, but that some callers told her that women should not involve themselves in politics and should remain at home, while others argued that she is “confusing” people by identifying as a haredi woman while seeking to enter the political world, something generally prohibited in haredi society.
Some of the anonymous callers simply told her “to be careful” and then hanged up.
“Some people in the community think they have a monopoly on religion and that they are therefore entitled to tell us what we can and can’t do,” Porat told The Jerusalem Post.
She said, however, that she had no intention of quitting the race and that she had the full support of her family as well as rabbis whom she has consulted with about running.
A complaint has not been filed to the police.
Porat, 41, says she fully identifies as a haredi woman, having grown up in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She’arim in Jerusalem and received her education in the haredi Bais Yaakov school network, and with a husband who studies in yeshiva, as well as children at haredi educational institutes.
“Perhaps I am more open to and aware of the world around me, but I identify as haredi,” she said.
Ometz Lev is headed by Nommi Tzur, who has since 2008 been a member of the Jerusalem City Council and a deputy mayor with Nir Barkat’s Jerusalem Will Succeed party.
As well as promoting several normative policies for the city’s regeneration and development, the party says it also seeks to advance gender equality in Jerusalem, especially in the decision- and policy-making levels of the municipality.
Porat says that she would like to work on haredi women’s rights, arguing that although many women in the ultra-Orthodox community are content with their status, many others would embrace broader opportunities and the ability to acquire the means and tools to advance themselves within Israeli society.