Did Jewish Values Die with the Six Million?

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How can you be a Jewish state when you have no Jewish values? Do we need to quote Tanach and Talmud to remind ourselves of the Jewish values that have been ingrained on our souls since we were tykes? Don’t we do that every week in the synagogue? Is anyone listening? Isn’t Israel supposed to be, you should forgive the expression, the Mecca of Diaspora Jewry?

So why is it that fewer and fewer Jews care about Israel? Maybe it is because they don’t like what they see in a host of Israeli policies, from making nice with some of the vilest governments in the world to treating refugees from genocide like criminals. It is something that is hard to wrap your head around. As hard as trying to understand how rabbis in New York refuse to let victims of child abuse dial 911 without their permission.

Who are the people throwing rocks through black-owned shop windows in Tel Aviv and setting fire to Eritreans in Jerusalem? People who were educated in the Land of Yad Vashem? How many billions did we spend trying to teach people how to live together and prevent genocide? As Jews and as a Jewish community, we yell “hate crime” every time someone looks at us cross-eyed, denies the Holocaust, or paints a swastika on a wall, including at Yad Vashem in early June. In the meantime, we Jews treat each other, our children, and the strangers among us like we are less than worthless.

Did the Six Million die for nothing? They had faith in a free, democratic and ideal state of Israel that would be the salvation of the world. Ani Mamin they sang in the Ghettos and camps. Hatikvah was on their lips together with the Shma as they went to the gas. We sing those songs on Yom Hashoah along with the Partisaner Hymn and Kaddish.

Where is that land of Israel, the land of Jewish values and ideals? Today it’s a place where Israeli government officials tell the big lie about North Africans, and prevent their own people from protesting peacefully. Government officials said that these refugees from genocide are raping Israeli women, giving them AIDS, and are a cancer on Israeli society. And they are deporting them back to their countries of origin with ugly rhetoric and violence reminiscent of Kristallnacht.

The ideal Israel in our souls, the Israel of blue skirts and embroidered blouses, of campfires and idealism, only exists in our imaginations. As a student of history, not bubbeh mayses, the story of the birth of Israel, the story of how the Jewish community behaved before, during and after the war in Mandate Palestine, in Europe, in America, in community after community–except for a handful of people who put themselves on the line in the attempt to rescue Jews–is not a pretty story.

The fictional Ari Ben Canaans of Exodus and the Rabbi Michoel Wiessmandls were rare characters. The Israeli right wing murdered the man who saved my mother and thousands of others during the Holocaust. To this very day, the behavior of the established Jewish communities in the secular and denominational world is shameful–from the treatment of the North Africans, including Ethiopian Jewry and women in Israel and everywhere else where they are forced to sit in the back, not drive, not go to school, etc.(in the organizational Jewish world there is equal work, not equal pay and glass ceilings) to the decades of covering up child abuse and domestic violence everywhere. And if anyone tells you that women in Judaism are free, look them in the eye and say “Agunot.”

The typical American Jew looks on, aghast, as Israel self-immolates in front of Diaspora Jewry, and Diaspora Jewry faces its own house of horrors. So much for being a light unto the nations. So much for the lessons from the Holocaust. So much for Jewish values. How the hell did we become the monsters we teach our children not to be. How can we, just four generations after the Holocaust, remain silent in the face of our leaders’ moral bankruptcy? How can we tolerate it when a Jew calls another Jew a Nazi? How can we tolerate it when our own people behave the way they do?

Maybe Jewish values died with the Six Million. Maybe that’s when Jewish leadership died. Elie Wiesel once said, “Jeanette, don’t wait for leaders. Be your own leader.”

Listen to Wiesel. Speak truth to power. If you don’t like what you see in the Jewish community, don’t wait for someone to lead you. Pick up a phone, post something to facebook, make your voice heard. Protest and demand the end of hypocrisy. Be your own leader.

Why I Didn’t Go to JOFA This Year

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I happen to be the case behind NY’s Silver Get Law, and I can tell you stories, but you don’t want to hear them.

I didn’t go to the JOFA Conference this year, because, for me, it’s become a waste of time. Blu Greenberg’s statement, “if there is a halakhic will there is a halakhic way” is true. Unfortunately, the halakha is there, but there is no halakhic will. Solutions do exist, but rabbis have other fish to fry and they simply wore JOFA out. What are people supposed to think when the Israeli rabbinate shuts down an agunah conference where Orthodox rabbis were going to grapple with the issue?
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My 40th anniversary written on Xmas Day 2006

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Today is the 40th anniversary of the day that I learned that when a woman steps under the chuppah, she takes her life and the lives of her children in her hands, and does so without informed consent or any form of real protection.
Today is the 40th anniversary of the day my life changed dramatically.
Today is the 40th anniversary of the day I married a man who beat me up and turned me into an agunah.

So today, indulge me, and read on.

> However, as the building companies started selling apts. to other groups, they have
> been trying to FORCE (emphasis mine, jf) the buses to be segretated.

Allow me to use some exegetical thinking here. It may be a stretch but – he says Charedim are FORCING the issues, some of them with the use of violence against women in public, so let’s talk a little bit about the use of force to create change–war is supposed to create peace–isn’t it?

Anyway, let’s give this a shot.

THE USE OF FORCE. let’s see what the Torah and Talmud say about using force.I can give you chapter and verse on this beginning with Devorim 20, Sotah 8, Sotah 42, etc.Rambam, hilchos melachim, peace above all. PEACE.

Last I heard, whether it’s real war, when you are dealing with your enemies first you must try to make peace, then you must exempt anyone who ever committed an aveyrah from going to war (r’ jose). Then when you lay a siege, you leave one side of the city open, and you aren’t allowed to chop down trees, rape or pillage, loot or anything else.

SO unless it’s self defense, forget it. No violence is allowed to force your enemies to do what you want.

Now then, based on how you are supposed to treat your ENEMIES with respect and practically pacifism, explain how you can force a woman, a fellow Jew, who is minding her own business in a public environment to go to the back of the bus or you will beat her and you will spit in her face

Why is it a woman’s obligation to be a trained warrior to face these people? Why does she have to go thru the basic training of a soldier in a conventional war to deal with people who don’t want to look at her or have her sit on a public bus? Chihal, why does Shoni Thon get advice to buy a can of mace, instead of decent Jewish men and Jewish society and the Jewish community dealing with the violent, coercive behavior that amounts to a state of war against women? (Chihal says until that happens she needs to protect herself NOW–ok)

Where is the exegesis on that? Where is the halacha? Other than Russell Hendel, who tries valiantly, where are you all to stop this violence halachically and force people to pay the price via derech eretz? This behavior is criminal behavior by anyone’s standards. (OTOH, Russell’s post on the halachic penalty of kicking/grabbing is enlightening indeed. So considering the situation on the bus, killing her on the spot for kicking would have been ok?)

The day the Kolko story broke I spoke to a Charedi friend from Brooklyn who said to me, “I warned my boys never to go near him 30 years ago.” Everybody knows–and nobody knows. No one does anything, and then Matisyahu Solomon, at the Agudah Convention, in the name of Halacha, blames the bloggers, and essentially says sweep it under the rug for the sake of the respect of the rabbanim.

If the rabbanim want respect, let them earn it. Starting with R’ Eliashiv, who canceled the agunah conference, does not speak out against the violence against women and children, sexually or otherwise. Not one word. Ever. Reb David Feinstein doesn’t speak about Shalom Bayis from the pulpit. Why not? His father was a pioneer in these issues and sent me to civil court to get my get. His father made the Silver Get Law. What gives here? The get ultimately cost almost half a mil. Where normal people come from that’s the crime of extortion. Criminal behavior.

Why is this criminal and not civil? If a woman is pious and takes Judaism seriously, her life is ruined if she can never remarry. She IS chained to a dead future. Because of the “separation” of church and state in a state where she DOES have the right to a divorce, a right guaranteed to every human being on the planet, even in the UN charter, she does not have that right. If her husband says, “I can get married again, you never will unless you give me what I want,” that’s extortion. “Give me what I want or you will suffer.” That’s criminal behavior.

So again, all of these things, the beating of the woman on the bus or Blimi Zitrenbaum in Monsey and any other child or woman, Kolko’s behavior, what the NK did, and the threats against Shani Thon, are CRIMES. CRIMES that in any other society, except some Islamic ones, would be punished in courts of law where people would pay fines, go to jail or suffer some consequence, not the least of which is a public shaming. At least that way everyone knows that these people committed evil against innocent people and shun them. In the real world, if you do the Crime you do the Time (not always, but at least THEY try. WE don’t even bother!)

The silence from R’ Eliashiv and others, and only prove my points. Frank Silberman’s post is a clear indication of why we are in the state we are in. His attitude perfectly reflects why it is that no gives a hoot or a holler about the status of women. This can be summed up this way: “I don’t read it, I don’t see it, I don’t know it, I don’t want to know it, therefore the problem doesn’t exist and I don’t have anything to do with it–even if it does exist–so leave me alone.”

A careful reading of Eeyov (Job) makes it very, very clear that if we are good people who understand what our place is in the world, then we must work to make society and humanity better than it is. This is our obligation to and understanding of Hashem. This is burdensome and can cause suffering among the righteous, but it brings us closer to Hashem, unlike the friends and the evil ones, who may be rewarded in this life with sleekness and easy words that fall from their lips as if they mean something. But empty words are just that empty and don’t bring us closer to Hashem.

We all have to face the fact that if we aren’t working toward stopping this–and it is 30% across the board, in all societies and in all religions, and you can go online and gets the stats all over the place–we aren’t really acting the way any Jew of any denomination is required to act, ethically and halachically, since what is involved here is clearly pikuach nefesh–literally and figuratively.

And everyone knows the halacha on that.

So why is it not being applied?

The Ressurection of the Agunah Girls: Techiyas HaMeysim for the Sake of Tikkun

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Techiyas HaMeysim: The Agunah Girls resurrected for the sake of Tikkun
Posted by Zuta on December 31, 2006 * Comments(1) Edit
To my friends over the years who have watched my battles with the Jewish community:
Some of you know that I have always been an activist because I was a former agunah, who paid a very high price, spiritually, emotionally, financially, and physically, for my freedom–and because I am the daughter of Holocaust survivors. These experiences so destroyed me, I had to rebuild my life and my ways so that I could make it up to my own children and become a decent human being.
The Agunah Girls mailbox on AOL was begun eleven years ago, when the Borough Park rabbi, Auschwitz survivor Menashe HaKaton Klein, aka the Ungvar Rebbe (Elie Wiesel’s revered rabbi), married off an 11-year-old girl via proxy so that she could be a pawn in an agunah case out of Montreal (Goldstein). Klein, who is regarded as “THE posek” for many of the chassidishe rebbes around the world, also started an organization called Shalom Bayis that declared a 10-year moratorium on gets, and established a concubine hotline in NY. This was reported to District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and the organization was subsequently either closed or forced underground.
When “Our Dirty Little Secret is No More” was written for Shma, the journal of the Center for Learning and Leadership, and was followed by the activism of JOFA, EDAH, and Jewish Women’s International focus on Domestic Violence, and the agunah organizations were established etc. Holocaust Education and getting justice (and money) for impoverished Holocaust survivors around the world was back on the front burner.
That was foolish. It was a waste of time. Head and heart and soul suffered from those battles, and in the interim, the people the Agunah Girls was supposed to help are still suffering, now worse than ever. The problem has increased with the exploding population and the distortion of halacha to benefit the powerful. The use of extortion to get gets and the abuse of children, allowed to run unchecked by the law of the land, under false claims of separation of church and state are weapons of destruction. When a haredi leader says “Sweep it under the rug,” all Jews, everywhere, need to start taking a good hard look at their “roots,” at the community that says that they are the only authentic Judaism.
While I may still care about Holocaust issues, my work for the last 30 years is but a mere drop of water flying in the wind–overwhelmed by the exploiters of the Holocaust–from American Jews who use it to raise funds that have nothing to do with survivors, Jewish education or anything related to the Holocaust, to the political exploitation of the Holocaust by the same people didn’t want the crazy survivors coming to Israel (and expropriated their property and never gave it back), to the Netueri Karta, who spit on Judaism and Jews and the Satmar and the Haredim who blame Jews (enlightened and Zionistic) for the Holocaust–instead of the evil perpetrators like Hitler and the rest of the antisemites who suffered from a chillul Hashem, or absence of Godliness…the sinas chinom thus bred in our people since the Holocaust is now in full swing, and playing out in our own families.
I personally believe God doesn’t take vicious murderers and idiots as partners to punish anyone…which is a whole other view of the Jewish religion than the view that was literally pounded into my head as a kid, and is also the view of those who play around with halacha to threaten women, men and children’s lives.
Innocents are being “punished” for the sins of not wanting to shave their heads, not knowing their place in chumash, turning on a radio, eating too much food, talking to a girl or boy, not standing at attention during kiddush–you name it…in 1/3 of Jewish families, lives are at risk, across the board, in every denomination, in some more than others. But in denominations and sects where there is no public information available, where communicating with the outside world is considered a crime punishable by a beating or worse, thousands of innocents, children, women and men, are trapped, and no one outside cares–and each victim believes that he or she is alone in the world, that no one has ever gone through what they went through.
It is heart-breaking.
This epiphany brought me back to my roots as a battered child, wife and agunah.
That women and children in the community I come from still have no right to report violent and felonious behavior to those who would protect them (911-even with all its problems), that they have no informed consent about how they have no protection and take their lives and the lives of their future children in their hands when they step underneath the chuppah, seems to be against everything God, the Torah and Judaism stand for.
Some of you may dismiss these things as irrelevant, because you never heard of it, they are in a minority, they are stupid for staying in, etc. etc. etc.– forgetting, conveniently that “For evil to succeed, good people need do nothing.” A poet during the Holocaust wrote: The town is burning and you stand there with idle hands.” “Der Shtetl Brent, und mir shteyen mit leymeneh hent.” As Hannah Arendt noted: Evil is banal.
Apathy and self-delusion about Judaism is worse. The Halacha says Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By Your Brother’s (Sister’s?) Blood.
The increasing incidences of horror stories prove that these issues are truly life-threatening. Agunot, wife battering, sexual child abuse, no mandatory reporting in Jewish schools, threats against women, men and children who are in danger of their very lives for standing up to that corrupt attitude, these things can no longer remain unchallenged.
Pikuach Nefesh trumps the rules– other than idolatry, incest and murder–yet the well-known people the community turns to for solutions to these problems, particularly in the agunah situation, say that a business contract, a bill of sale (namely the Ketubah), trumps Pikuach nefesh…though the Torah, the Mishna, both Talmuds, the Rambam and the Brisker Rov all say otherwise.
Let’s see if it’s really true that the bill of sale known as a Ketubah is more important than the lives or souls of men, women and children at risk.
Join this conversation and let’s see if we can do some tikkun.

Unchained melody: A cri de coeur

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Unchained melody: A cri de coeur

Jewish Standard

by Jeanette Friedman

For hundreds of years the issue of chained women, agunot, women whose husbands refuse to grant them divorces (gets), has simmered on the back burner, an awful secret often linked to domestic violence and worse. Thousands are affected by this issue, and suffer the indignity of never being able to marry again — as long as their “ex”-husbands hold them hostage to untenable conditions — like demanding total custody and all marital assets, no alimony, plus payment of thousands (in some cases millions) of dollars. And if a wife or her family can’t meet the recalcitrant husband’s conditions, she remains an agunah, and he, with a technical leniency called “heter meah rabbanim,” permission from a hundred rabbis, can marry someone else.

That’s extortion. It is astonishing that such an abhorrently unfair and medieval system can exist in Western civilization in the 21st century.

The battle against it has been going on for at least 40 years. I know. I was an agunah for six years and was sent by Rabbi Moishe Feinstein to civil court for a divorce. When my decree was overturned because the court held my ex in contempt, Rabbi Feinstein helped create the Silver Get Law. It’s far from perfect, but with it, women stand a chance. A few years ago Rabbi Feinstein’s own followers at the Agudath Israel campaigned to do away with his law and, luckily, failed.

Women have waited patiently for centuries, and Orthodox women’s organizations have operated respectfully to find a halachic solution. When asked at the first Edah conference in 1996 why battered women couldn’t be granted gets (divorces) by a Jewish court, a well-respected rabbi described as “the Great White Hope for agunot” replied, “I ain’t Santa Claus and I ain’t giving you no cookies” in front of 400 gasping witnesses. And now, with the cancellation of the planned conference in Jerusalem on agunot, these women’s needs have once again been dismissed with impunity and callousness.

Why was the conference canceled? Because the 96-year-old posek hador, the halachic decider, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv of Jerusalem, was pressured to do so. By whom and with what weapon he was bludgeoned? Only God knows for sure. As Rabbi Yosef Blau of Yeshiva University, an advocate for agunot who went to Israel for the conference, asked, “Why are they afraid to talk?”

The main issue facing this conference was the coordination of batei din and an attempt to set some judicial standards and oversight. Maybe, just maybe, that was the real problem. Imagine, if an “authority” would be established to look over the shoulders of these independent, arbitrary courts to determine whether or not they meet basic criteria — like not being allowed to accept “donations” (private or otherwise) from recalcitrant parties of the first or second parts. Would that have had something to do with the cancellation?

Dr. Ellis Rivkin, a brilliant historian who writes about hidden revolutions and the transfer of Jewish authority, notes that the all-encompassing mandate of Jewish authority in the Middle Ages was bound up in religious sanctions. It had its own rules and took care of its own communities, using religious law even on civil matters. Jewishly, the system of law was underwritten by “divine command,” and authority reached, as Rivkin puts it, “into every nook and cranny of Jewish society.” That meant that “all struggles, no matter how secular in nature [like theft or damage of property, marriage and divorce] involved religious ideologies….”

So how does one change things? According to Rivkin, “when profound historical changes altered the structure of society … large numbers of Jews challenged the very structure of authority then prevailing. One example he gives of this change in authority is the rise of chasidism against the mitnagdim. It was a truly ugly battle. In fact, as he says, the ability to use compulsion inevitably leads to forceful repression of all those who questioned authority, no matter how justified their complaints.

Perhaps this is what Jewish women and some well meaning rabbis experienced this week-a heavy-handed rabbinic attempt to shut down “the feminists” once and for all. Yehuda Levin of the Rabbinical Alliance of America was quoted by JTA as saying he pressured rabbis not to participate. He added, “The reason they are doing this [that they would participate] is because there is big pressure, a societal pressure of feminism, in which they paint the Orthodox as archaic and out of touch….” Levin, who was dismissed by a source at the Agudath Israel in New York as a “well-meaning loose cannon,” may have done all Jewish women a favor. He gave us a clarion call.

There is no time like the present for honest and humane men and women to wrest control of our daughters’ and granddaughters’ destinies from those who have abused the bet din system in this country and in Israel. We should immediately organize all the disparate groups fighting for agunot around the world and strike while the spotlight is aimed at this patently unfair squelching of a conference that might have led to major solutions that conform to halachic guidelines. This dismissal of women’s basic right to live unfettered lives and to condemn some of them to lives of violence or poverty, childlessness, loneliness, and worse should galvanize all of us to rise up and force a change in the system.

Now is the time to demand the abolition of “kinyan” (a ritual act of purchase) as a condition of marriage, to demand that batei din be allowed to declare marriages over and issue annulments, and to create prenuptial agreements that have teeth in courts of law and make women equal partners who can initiate divorce.

Will it happen? Who knows? Haredi attitudes toward women are hard to change, and they can be cruel and entrenched. Years ago at a haredi funeral in Borough Park, two leading chasidic rabbis arose to deliver the anticipated eulogy. But instead of a eulogy, each delivered a harangue upon the deceased’s daughters, blaming them for their father’s demise because they hadn’t yet married. There were literally hundreds of people packed into the hall, many of them women — as usual, hidden behind the mechitza, the curtain that traditionally separates the sexes. But suddenly, contrary to custom, a loud hissing was heard to emanate from the women’s area. The more the men repeated the charge, the louder the women hissed to drown out the outrage.

It’s time for haredi women to start hissing again and educating their daughters about what is in store for them if things don’t change for pious Jewish women. But hissing alone isn’t enough. If we keep hitting stonewalls, we will have to take the fight to the streets instead. Imagine what a chillul HaShem that would be. It might even get the job done.
Unchained melody: A cri de coeur

or hundreds of years the issue of chained women, agunot, women whose husbands refuse to grant them divorces (gets), has simmered on the back burner, an awful secret often linked to domestic violence and worse. Thousands are affected by this issue, and suffer the indignity of never being able to marry again — as long as their “ex”-husbands hold them hostage to untenable conditions — like demanding total custody and all marital assets, no alimony, plus payment of thousands (in some cases millions) of dollars. And if a wife or her family can’t meet the recalcitrant husband’s conditions, she remains an agunah, and he, with a technical leniency called “heter meah rabbanim,” permission from a hundred rabbis, can marry someone else.

That’s extortion. It is astonishing that such an abhorrently unfair and medieval system can exist in Western civilization in the 21st century.

The battle against it has been going on for at least 40 years. I know. I was an agunah for six years and was sent by Rabbi Moishe Feinstein to civil court for a divorce. When my decree was overturned because the court held my ex in contempt, Rabbi Feinstein helped create the Silver Get Law. It’s far from perfect, but with it, women stand a chance. A few years ago Rabbi Feinstein’s own followers at the Agudath Israel campaigned to do away with his law and, luckily, failed.

Women have waited patiently for centuries, and Orthodox women’s organizations have operated respectfully to find a halachic solution. When asked at the first Edah conference in 1996 why battered women couldn’t be granted gets (divorces) by a Jewish court, a well-respected rabbi described as “the Great White Hope for agunot” replied, “I ain’t Santa Claus and I ain’t giving you no cookies” in front of 400 gasping witnesses. And now, with the cancellation of the planned conference in Jerusalem on agunot, these women’s needs have once again been dismissed with impunity and callousness.

Why was the conference canceled? Because the 96-year-old posek hador, the halachic decider, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv of Jerusalem, was pressured to do so. By whom and with what weapon he was bludgeoned? Only God knows for sure. As Rabbi Yosef Blau of Yeshiva University, an advocate for agunot who went to Israel for the conference, asked, “Why are they afraid to talk?”

The main issue facing this conference was the coordination of batei din and an attempt to set some judicial standards and oversight. Maybe, just maybe, that was the real problem. Imagine, if an “authority” would be established to look over the shoulders of these independent, arbitrary courts to determine whether or not they meet basic criteria — like not being allowed to accept “donations” (private or otherwise) from recalcitrant parties of the first or second parts. Would that have had something to do with the cancellation?

Dr. Ellis Rivkin, a brilliant historian who writes about hidden revolutions and the transfer of Jewish authority, notes that the all-encompassing mandate of Jewish authority in the Middle Ages was bound up in religious sanctions. It had its own rules and took care of its own communities, using religious law even on civil matters. Jewishly, the system of law was underwritten by “divine command,” and authority reached, as Rivkin puts it, “into every nook and cranny of Jewish society.” That meant that “all struggles, no matter how secular in nature [like theft or damage of property, marriage and divorce] involved religious ideologies….”

So how does one change things? According to Rivkin, “when profound historical changes altered the structure of society … large numbers of Jews challenged the very structure of authority then prevailing.” One example he gives of this change in authority is the rise of chasidism against the mitnagdim. It was a truly ugly battle. In fact, as he says, the ability to use compulsion inevitably leads to forceful repression of all those who questioned authority, no matter how justified their complaints.

Perhaps this is what Jewish women and some well meaning rabbis experienced this week-a heavy-handed rabbinic attempt to shut down “the feminists” once and for all. Yehuda Levin of the Rabbinical Alliance of America was quoted by JTA as saying he pressured rabbis not to participate. He added, “The reason they are doing this [that they would participate] is because there is big pressure, a societal pressure of feminism, in which they paint the Orthodox as archaic and out of touch….” Levin, who was dismissed by a source at the Agudath Israel in New York as a “well-meaning loose cannon,” may have done all Jewish women a favor. He gave us a clarion call.

There is no time like the present for honest and humane men and women to wrest control of our daughters’ and granddaughters’ destinies from those who have abused the bet din system in this country and in Israel. We should immediately organize all the disparate groups fighting for agunot around the world and strike while the spotlight is aimed at this patently unfair squelching of a conference that might have led to major solutions that conform to halachic guidelines. This dismissal of women’s basic right to live unfettered lives and to condemn some of them to lives of violence or poverty, childlessness, loneliness, and worse should galvanize all of us to rise up and force a change in the system.

Now is the time to demand the abolition of “kinyan” (a ritual act of purchase) as a condition of marriage, to demand that batei din be allowed to declare marriages over and issue annulments, and to create prenuptial agreements that have teeth in courts of law and make women equal partners who can initiate divorce.

Will it happen? Who knows? Haredi attitudes toward women are hard to change, and they can be cruel and entrenched. Years ago at a haredi funeral in Borough Park, two leading chasidic rabbis arose to deliver the anticipated eulogy. But instead of a eulogy, each delivered a harangue upon the deceased’s daughters, blaming them for their father’s demise because they hadn’t yet married. There were literally hundreds of people packed into the hall, many of them women — as usual, hidden behind the mechitza, the curtain that traditionally separates the sexes. But suddenly, contrary to custom, a loud hissing was heard to emanate from the women’s area. The more the men repeated the charge, the louder the women hissed to drown out the outrage.

It’s time for haredi women to start hissing again and educating their daughters about what is in store for them if things don’t change for pious Jewish women. But hissing alone isn’t enough. If we keep hitting stonewalls, we will have to take the fight to the streets instead. Imagine what a chillul HaShem that would be. It might even get the job done.