Jerusalem – A leading national-religious rabbi, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, has called upon the new Knesset Members to initiate legislation that will help women to find part-time employment. Laws like this, he wrote, will make it easier for mothers to work outside the home and supplement the family’s earnings while maintaining their traditional home-related roles.
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed devoted his weekly column in the popular B’sheva magazine Friday to a discussion of the pros and cons of the modern feminist movement – a delicate subject that most rabbis prefer to avoid tackling head-on in the press. Responding to a reader’s queries, Rabbi Melamed pointed to parallels between the current debate on feminism and the controversy around communism in the previous century: just as communism and capitalism have both bad and good aspects, so feminism has both bad and good aspects, he explained.
While the feminist movement has empowered women and allowed them to make contributions to society through various talents that had hitherto been hidden, he said, it also has hurt the Jewish family and eroded “certain feminine traits.” Religious women who identify with the feminist movement are allowing a foreign influence into their lives, he explained, and they often find themselves in conflict with basic Jewish values. Some of them admire feminist leaders who do not represent Torah-based thought and hurl harsh accusations at the representatives of tradition, he added.
Feminism vs. family
Rabbi Melamed opined that if a survey were held, it would most likely find that the more a woman identifies with feminist ideas, the greater the chances that she will be unmarried, or divorced, or that even if married, she will have difficulty building her family. He conceded that there would always be exceptional women who could successfully enjoy both worlds — career and traditional family life — but that these are a unique minority.
The Rabbi pointed out that in practice, the advancement of women through “reverse discrimination” often means the advancement of leftists into positions of power. Most religious and traditional women put family values above their career, he noted, whereas secular women put their career first more often. The result of this, he explained, is that “when we pass laws that give preference to women in senior positions and directorates, we are in effect passing a law that gives preferment to the secular Left.”
An idea for legislators
Rabbi Melamed quotes from a letter he received from a 26 year-old-woman, who complained that at present, women who want to work and supplement their family incomes are forced to choose between a high-powered job that leaves little time for the home or not working at all. The other two choices, she said, are to be teachers, for which not everyone is suited, or to get jobs as secretaries or nursery school attendants for which they are overqualified.
The solution, she said, could be to offer employers tax breaks in order to encourage them to hire women in part-time positions, as well as to subsidize day-care centers and kindergartens.
Rabbi Melamed called upon “the new Knesset Members” to act upon the ideas put forth in the anonymous woman’s letter – “for the sake of the families, the nation, the economy and the women.”
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, a leader of Israel’s religious-Zionist community, is dean of Yeshiva Har Bracha and a prolific author on Jewish Law. His books “The Laws of Prayer,” “The Laws of Passover” and “Nation, Land, Army” are presently being translated into English. He can be contacted at [email protected]
How about some laws for their husbands to work?
1.As long as it doesnt come on the chesbon of the chinuch and time for the children.
2.I dont think there is any chance the govt will pass a law to subsidize day-care centres or kindergartens under the current finacial situation in eretz yisroel.
Thank you Rav Melamed. This is an impt issue in Israel and America. Women must work there is no choice yet we want and yearn to be home as mothers, wifes and daughters. The job market as P/T workers is difficult and should be expanded.
“high powered” “feminist” frum women often get to work part- time because they have skills and are in demand i.e. speech therapy, OT, PT, medicine, law, accounting, computers. I love the way he concludes the results of a survey about feminism even though he admits it has not been done.
Feminism does not challenge family or marriage. Rather, feminism challenges the mistreatment of women. Unfortunately, there are many marital situations which are extremely unhealthy for women. According to a Haifa University study, one out of seven Jewish women in Israel is in an abusive marriage. So a woman in such an abusive marriage may find feminism to be a godsend, freeing her from the slavery that is marriage to a man who expects her to take care of his every need, with quiet, smiling, uncomplaining “femininity”. Feminism gives women the strength to find their own identities, their own divine spark, which is often trampled on by insensitive and uncaring men. Feminism brings women back to life.
Good idea, but the Rabbi needs to explain where the money will come from. Where does he propose cutting the buget to get the funds – money for health care? seniors? schools? defense? rabbis?
The Rabbi might be a good Rabbi, but he is a lousy politician. He could have promoted suggestions to support working women and to open up more good part-time jobs without bashing so many women. True feminists are in no way anti-family. They share the goal of strong families.
I have always wondered why according to Pirkei Uvos, if a man learns, he won’t have the stress of work. Not everyone that learns can earn enough money from it to survive! not everyone can be a dayan and the like!
Until I figured it out.
Of course they won’t have the stress! Isn’t it much easier to have the women take in both kelolos of Adam and Chavah? Let the women take care of the household AND of parnasah, and I’ll sit and learn. Thing is, most men that are in kolel don’t learn full time and have too much free time on their hands. I see my kolel neighbors sitting around inbetween sedorim at home doing nothing while their wives are busy slaving away at full-time jobs while struggling to run the household at the same time.
Many of these women are falling apart.
How bout bringing this law in the world around. i’m a Yiddishe mama desperately looking for a part time job between 9.30 and 3pm and not 11-6pm or 7pm as most P/T’S are advertised. with no young ones home during those hrs i wanna work to supplement my already low income but still need to be there for my kids after school hrs. any help??
There is a model called job sharing, where 2 people do the work of 1 and are paid accordingly. This does make each person less efficient as they have to spend time with each other to get acquainted with what the other has been doing.
I posted something earlier, but they didn’t post it (probably because it named companies and they don’t like “advertising”).
There are some fantastic companies that you can work for part time at home. I did it when I was tyring to make extra money. It doesn’t pay much, but it definitely helped me out. I was hired by a call-center company to handle customer service and orders for the Home Shopping Network. It was actually fun. You just need a quiet place to work, a computer with high speed internet and a phone line. I had to pass an interview, go through training and then pass a final test. The training is paid (not well… but paid).
There is a great site (even for men) that is an online magazine for Work At Home Moms. I posted the link in my last post and they rejected it. It offers WAH opportunities that they have checked out. Most of them are for companies you already know. With some companies, you choose your hours from those available. Others have set schedules. Choose the company that works best for you. I had loads of fun doing it.